Updated: Jun 6
Losing a loved one is difficult, whether the process of that loss is slow due to a long-term illness or suddenly and unexpectedly. Dealing with your loss often requires help from those around you, family, friends, and support groups. Bereavement counselling is one option you can seek to help learn coping mechanisms when you experience a loss; especially if that loss has a particularly overwhelming effect on you. This specialised counselling allows you to work through your feelings, grief, to help lessen the overwhelming feelings you have.
Understanding your Feelings
Grief is the name we give the feelings many of us feel after a loved one has died. Many consider it sadness, but grief actually takes on many emotions including anger, anxiety, shock, and sadness. It can take several days, weeks, months, or years to move through the cycle of grief or the stages of emotions that occur after losing a loved one.
It is possible for you to feel differently from one death to another. It is normal that some individuals may not bring out a depth of feeling after their passing and others will affect your life more. When you start to see your employment, personal relationships, or education suffer due to an emotional reaction to the loss of a loved one, seeking help from a bereavement counsellor can be helpful.
The 5 Stages of Grief
Many believe in the five stages of grief: shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The concept was designed by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, but even her studies revealed that not all individuals go through the process in the same way. Some move right passed denial to anger or bargaining before they are able to accept death.
Whether you believe in the stages of grief or not, you do have emotions and when these emotions start to affect how you act in life, work, and other situations, it might be time to consider how bereavement counselling might help you.
Counselling One on One
Counselling can be conducted one on one. With a private therapist, you are able to talk about your feelings, address the pain of your loss, and learn coping mechanisms. You might cry, yell, or simply just talk during the session.
When suffering from the loss of a loved one, sessions assess where you are in your grieving process. The therapist will look to see if there are more emotions going on than just the loss you feel such as depression, guilt, or censure.
Be aware that everyone grieves at a different pace. You may not be ready to let go of your feelings yet; however, counselling one on one also addresses healthier emotions. A big issue with a loss of someone extremely close is for the person to want to keep any emotions they feel because it helps them remember the person. Bereavement counselling takes a different approach to this situation by providing ways to remember the person with healthier feelings.
In one on one sessions, it is possible to be flexible in what you talk about, when you set the appointments, and how many sessions you go to.
Group support is also a healthy way to deal with some of your grief. Support groups are not just for groups of individuals who might have suffered a loss in a major incident. There are support groups for many types of loss from cancer to death in general. Support groups can be helpful as a counselling mechanism to show you are not alone in your feelings. It is a way to share the person with others and pass on the memory of that person.
Support groups are limited in flexibility as they are at a set time and are led by a therapist. Everyone is given a chance to speak during the session, which might limit the amount of time you can spend talking about the person you love. Yet, there are also many benefits, as you can meet new people, you can meet those who understand your feelings, and you can share your memories.
Bereavement counselling can be a mixture of both private and group sessions to help you move on and deal with those feelings that are definitely affecting your life.