My area of expertise is loss and providing bereavement counselling, although my practice is by no means limited to this. Bereavement counselling is a specialised type of counselling that involves supporting you if you have experienced the loss of any type; a death, of a relationship, status, health, functioning, achievement, aspirations, lifestyle, routine etc.
Sometimes we can feel we can't talk to friends and family as we will burden them, they might be suffering also and we feel we will increase their pain, they won't understand or we'll be 'going on again'. Counselling can give you the time to talk about all your mixed emotions with a professional who can provide support for you during these very difficult times. Talking about the loss allows you to adjust to your new life with all its changes - good and bad. Keeping things bottled up, or denying the sadness, can prolong the pain. Any loss has to be acknowledged for you to move forward.
Bereavement counselling is recommended for anyone, of any age, if your loss seems overwhelming, or your life is being adversely affected by your grief. It can help you work through your grief, learn coping mechanisms to help you when you're not with me in the counselling room, find a place for your loss so you can carry on with life, and eventually find acceptance.
Loss is an inevitable part of life, and grief is a natural part of the healing process. The reasons for grief are many, such as the loss of a loved one, the loss of health, or the letting go of a long-held dream. Dealing with a significant loss can be one of the most difficult times in a person's life.
Different kinds of loss
Feelings of loss are very personal, and only you know what is significant to you. People commonly associate certain losses with strong feelings of grief. These can include:
· Death of a partner, family member, friend or colleague
· Loss by miscarriage, stillbirth or death of a child
· Relationship end with partner, family member, friend or colleague
· Serious health issue for us or of a loved one
Subtle or less obvious losses can also cause strong feelings of grief, even though those around you may not know the extent of your feelings. Some examples include:
· Leaving home
· Illness/loss of health
· Death of a pet
· Change of job
· Move to a new home
· Transitions in life like leaving school, college, uni or a job
· Loss of a physical ability
· Loss of financial security
Sudden versus predictable loss
Sudden or shocking losses due to events like crimes, accidents, or suicide can be traumatic. There is no way to prepare. They can challenge your sense of security and confidence in the predictability of life. You may experience symptoms such as sleep disturbance, nightmares, distressing thoughts, depressed mood, social isolation, or severe anxiety.
Predictable losses, like those due to terminal illness, sometimes allow more time to prepare for the loss. However, they create two layers of grief: the grief related to the anticipation of the loss and the grief related to the loss itself.
How long does grief last?
The length of the grief process is different for everyone. There is no predictable schedule for grief. Although it can be quite painful at times, the grief process should not be rushed. It is important to be patient with yourself as you experience your unique reactions to the loss. With time and support, things generally do get better. However, it is normal for significant dates, holidays, or other reminders to trigger feelings related to the loss. Taking care of yourself, seeking support, and acknowledging your feelings during these times are ways that can help you cope.
Normal grief reactions
When experiencing grief, it is common to:
· Feel like you are "going crazy"
· Have difficulty concentrating
· Feel sad or depressed
· Be irritable or angry (at the deceased, oneself, others, higher powers)
· Feel frustrated or misunderstood
· Experience anxiety, nervousness, or fearfulness
· Feel like you want to "escape"
· Experience guilt or remorse
· Be ambivalent
· Feel numb
· Lack energy and motivation
Grief as a process of healing
It is important to note that the grief process is not linear, but is more often experienced in cycles. Grief is sometimes compared to climbing a spiral staircase where things can look and feel like you are just going in circles, yet you are actually making progress. Being patient with the process and allowing yourself to have any feelings about the loss can help. If you feel stuck in your grief, talking to me as a trained counsellor can help you move forward in the healing process.