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 do get in touch.
So many things were helpful
So many things were helpful that it is hard to choose just one. Most helpful was probably how compassionate you were towards me. This slowly helped me shift the way that I relate to myself. Counselling felt like a very safe and warm space, in which I could look at myself with more kindness and allow myself to express feelings and needs. This has helped me personally as well as making me more open in my relationships with other people, privately and at work. Thank you Catherine. The two years with you have meant a lot to me and have changed me in many ways.
I could not have asked for a better independent witness to my story
I could not have asked for a better independent witness to my story than Catherine. As she joined me on my journey she was kind and supportive. Encouraging me to see things in a different light. I will probably return at some stage; Catherine's instinctive approach and skill of picking out key elements in my narrative helped me make sense of things at this difficult time for me. Thank you. Everything was clear & straight forward. Which is no mean feat when you are operating in a global pandemic!!
Catherine always remained calm and collected
Catherine always remained calm and collected even during times filled with conflict in couples therapy. She managed to bring back my then boyfriend to a calmer state and I felt like she was standing up for me when I couldn't. I felt like I had a good bond with her and trusted her so that I could open up in front of her.
I feel I am in a very different place
One of the most useful things about going to counselling was learning so much about myself. I feel I am in a very different place from when I first started and I owe it to the support and help which Catherine offered. I will not rule out returning if I feel I need to, but for now I feel happy with the place I am in.
I really found the whole experience really helpful
[What was most helpful about your counselling?] “Having a different perspective on my situation and what I was going through. Talking through how I was feeling and then being directed by Catherine to look at things in a different way and make connections to other parts of my life and relationships helped to make sense of things. I really found the whole experience really helpful and exactly what I needed at the point I was at. Thank you for your help.
She helped me through the fog of self doubt
Catherine describes herself as a demystifier – and she is. But not just of psychobabble. She helped me through the fog of self doubt, delusion, depression that clouded me in a difficult period of my life. And in place of fog she helped install the ropes and tackle I needed to climb onto dry land, out from the cold, and find a seat back by the fire. But equally, she possesses a superpower (and a useful one for a therapist): she has an off-the-chart ability to listen. To make you hear her listening, to adjust the quality of silence you sometimes need to say what you didn’t know you were going to say, to make you feel heard. Her empathy is palpable; yet I’ve never once felt patronised. Most extraordinary is that she does all this without judgement or prejudice, but with sincerity and good humour. It’s pretty much the perfect combination and I can’t think of anybody who wouldn’t benefit from talking to Catherine. And I can’t thank her enough.
You were excellent
Thanks for all your help. I will be in touch if I need to in the future. You were excellent.
Catherine was wise and supportive
Catherine was wise and supportive, picking out elements of my story and helping me see things in a different way. I will probably return at some stage; Catherine has been very kind and helpful at a difficult time in my life.
The help you’ve given me has been invaluable
I just want to say a huge thank you for the past year. The help you’ve given me has been invaluable and I’ve learnt so much about myself, my past, and my relationship to the wider world. Your guidance and help will stand to me for the rest of my life and I’ve made so many positive changes in the past year, a lot of which I feel I owe to you. Thank you so much for everything.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your help and understanding.