Counselling for Bereavement & LossWhilst death may be a part of life, and grief a natural process, sometimes we need a little support to find our way through what can be for some a completely life changing and sometimes traumatic experience.
My experience of working with bereavement and lossThrough four years of working with a therapeutic group and from my one to one counselling work in the fire brigade and in private practice I have worked with many clients who have experienced death or important losses in their life. For some, it may be the most challenging event you may ever have to encounter.
Initially I would be wanting to really try and understand how you are experiencing and coping with your loss. People in your life may often wrongly assume how you feel or may even prefer not to ask but I am very interested in how you feel and I am interested in understanding your experience from your own personal perspective.
It is so unfortunate that many of us are unable to cope with others peoples sadness and it is a common experience of the bereaved to feel extremely isolated just at a time they need support the most. Once the busyness of the funeral has past there can be a slowing down of visitors and callers and the bereaved often report to me feeling that they are perhaps expected by others or society to have recovered by now or should be feeling better by now.
Despite my experience of working with grief and loss I know that until I meet you and listen to your story I cannot even begin to guess or understand exactly what you are going through at this time. How could I? How could anyone? My own losses or the losses of others I have met will not guide me to your particular thoughts or feelings because how we as individual human beings feel each loss, and what we feel, is unique to each of us.
There are of course some universal feelings that we can all identify with and you may be feeling some of the 'usual' symptoms of deep sadness, pain, longing, pining, but there can be other less expected feelings including somatic (physical) symptoms. There can be feelings of anxiety, guilt, fear, panic, there can be frustration, anger, rage. There can even be relief. You also may feel conflicting feelings all at once and it may change day to day, hour to hour, minute by minute. Some people start to have panic attacks, feel a new social anxiety or are unable to get to sleep or wake often in the night. Others may notice physical pains or heart palpitations that were not previously present.
It is said by some grief theorists that there are definite stages that we pass through when going through a bereavement. Elisabeth Kubler Ross for example who wrote ‘On Death and Dying’ speaks of what she sees as five stages of grief. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance but she says these are not always felt in order and we may miss some entirely. So whilst this theory of stages may be a guide and for some people do give hope that there is a process that we go through, they are in no way a map to how you will or should feel.
Stages of Grief
So there is no right way, no right feeling, no right amount of time to grieve. Grief can include just about any emotion that a human could feel and maybe some feelings and depth of feeling that we have never felt before.
Relationships are often complicated and so too may be our reactions to death. Feelings may sometimes overwhelm us like a wave we cannot escape from or may at times seem absent entirely.
Why come to bereavement counselling?
- People sometimes come to bereavement counselling because they feel isolated and want someone understanding to share their feelings with.
- You may feel you need a place where you can continue grieving without judgment from those around you.
- You may feel you have become stuck in the grief process and feel its time to move forwards but don't know how.
- You might still need to make sense of a traumatic or sudden death and speak about it in a place where it can be accepted and heard.
- You may be confused that you are still struggling from a death or loss that happened many years ago.
- You may be confused because you don’t feel what you or others expected you to feel.
- You may just want a safe quiet place to just be and work it out for yourself.
Other Important LossesI have put bereavement and loss together because some other losses we encounter in life can also trigger a grief reaction. The impact of these losses can often be underestimated by others which can add to the hurt. Other losses may include:
Miscarriage - A painful loss that can sometimes not seem to be recognised or talked about.
Loss of health - Losing health through illness or disability is often not considered or it's impact fully understood until it is experienced personally.
Loss of a relationship - Through death, divorce or separation, the loss of a relationship can be hugely distressing and it may feel as though the person has suddenly died.
Pet Loss - Whilst not everyone may understand what you are going through, it is a fact that losing a beloved pet can feel simply devastating.
Loss of a job - Our sense of self worth is often found in our job roles and so a sudden or unexpected loss of a job such as through redundancy can provoke a grief like reaction.
These losses are in no particular order and there will be others I have not mentioned. We cannot measure the importance of our losses by another's loss or experience because we are unique.
We cannot change what has past but I can be with you in the present. I can listen and I can care. I can offer you a quiet and safe space where you can express all of your thoughts and feelings, helping you to work through the grieving process.
How I work with you
My hope is that this may help you to make sense of what has happened to you, how your loss has affected you and your life and also to make sense of what you are experiencing right now.
I also aim to offer hope. Hope that in time you can get through the darkest of feelings, hope for brighter tomorrows and eventually, and in your own time, hope for new beginnings. Counselling is not about forgetting and moving on as though nothing has happened. It involves recognising the loss, honouring ourselves and processing all our feelings, dealing with any unfinished business that may still feel present and at the same time, hopefully building something new.
"I found the sessions of great benefit, I was feeling lost, alone and confused, counselling gave me a safe place to be, work things out, not be judged and feel protected"
If you would also like a safe place to express your feelings and experiences of loss then do get in touch. The first session is a reduced fee assessment hour to help you come and decide whether you would be comfortable working with me. You can call me on the number at the top of the page or use this form to contact me. I may be in session but usually respond very quickly.