Grief and Bereavement Counselling
Are you thinking about how bereavement counselling might be able to help you?
Losing someone close to you can be one of the most painful experiences you will go through in life.
Everyone experiences and deals with grief differently. You won’t necessarily proceed through the famous stages of grief in a predictable way, although some do.
Your past experiences of loss, and the circumstances of your most recent one, will effect what your unique grieving process looks like.
There is no time limit on grief. Sometimes people get back into their usual routines quite quickly. At other times it takes longer.
Some people prefer to grieve alone. Others want company, the support of loved ones. There is no right way, only what works for you.
What Grief Looks Like
You might struggle to comprehend that the person you have lost has gone, or feel like it is not really happening.
A feeling of disconnection and numbness is common.
You might feel some guilt, perhaps about things you did or didn’t say or do, or about how you felt when it first happened.
Perhaps you have been worrying about whether the way you’ve been feeling is normal or right.
Mood swings and tearfulness are normal, although not everyone cries, no matter how bereft they feel.
Sadness and anger often come in waves, sometimes triggered quite suddenly by reminders of the person who has died. These can feel overwhelming.
You might want to find ways to feel as close to the person you have lost as possible, perhaps by spending time in their home or with their things. At times you might feel their presence, or feel like you have seen or heard them.
It is very common to feel guilty about life returning to some kind of normality, or at forgetting sometimes to feel sad.
Coping With Grief
It is said that you never really get over the loss of a loved one, but that in time you can hope to grow around it.
Most people will eventually adjust to the new normal and carry on with their lives, while carrying some sadness, especially when reminded of their loved one.
It is important to look after yourself during this time, to practice self-compassion and engage in self-care, such as the strategies suggested here.
You might find it helpful to see a counsellor, or to join a support group. It’s important that you talk to someone about what you’re going though.
Struggling to Cope
Adjusting to a loss is never easy, but sometimes people find it particularly difficult to move forwards.
Everyone is different and there are no rules to define a normal or healthy grief process.
However, there are some warning signs that a person might not be coping with their grief. These can suggest that the grieving process will take longer or be more difficult, and might include:
- Pushing away painful feelings or avoiding facing the loss
- Avoiding talking about or being reminded of the person who has died
- Refusing to go to the funeral
- Distracting yourself all the time, for example by focusing only on the jobs that need doing
- Drinking too much or taking drugs (including prescription)
- Aches and pains or illness
- Intense mood swings or desire to be alone which persist after the first month or two
- Ongoing neglect of self-care and/or responsibilities
None of these signs is in itself enough to confirm that a person is not coping with the loss. But research has found that people who experience a number of these signs in the early weeks or months often take longer to adjust, and find it harder to do so. So if you recognise yourself in one or more of these signs, it is worth getting help as soon as possible.
Bereavement counselling can support you to safely explore your grief.
When it comes to mourning, the only way out is through. Therapy offers a safe, contained space, where you can connect with and process your painful feelings and memories.
If you have been experiencing anxiety or depression in the wake of your bereavement, counselling can be a huge help.
When a person you love dies, your relationship with them doesn’t end, it changes. Through counselling you can find ways to honour that connection that you still feel.
If you have been struggling to adapt to a loss, the sooner you can get help, the better. However, counselling can help you to work through your grief even if many years have passed. It is never too late.
If you would like to know more about how bereavement counselling could help you to feel better, please get in touch.