Bereavement and the grief experienced following personal loss is a highly complex issue that affects different people in different ways.
For many, the grief experienced following the death of a loved one can be so overwhelming, whether the loss was anticipated (e.g. following a terminal illness), or sudden (e.g. following a stillbirth or the death of a child or young person), that the individual becomes locked into their grief and both emotionally and physically immobilised.
Although such debilitating grief is usually associated with loss resulting from death, it can also occur following a traumatic experience such as divorce, job loss or even physical impairment such as amputation.
But, whatever the nature of the loss, there are numerous professional bodies, including government agencies, associations and specialist private grief counsellors who can really help the bereaved person finally come to terms with their loss. Please click here for more information: bereavement services
Benefits of Grief Counselling
The main purpose of grief counselling is to enable the bereaved to complete any ‘unfinished business’ and to come to terms with life without the deceased or the situation in which they currently find themselves.
Depending on the circumstances, a grief counsellor can help the bereaved person move on, following loss, by facilitating the appropriate 4-stage mourning process, namely to:
1. accept the reality of the loss;
2. work through the pain of grief and deal with both expressed and hitherto unspoken issues;
3. readjust to a changed environment and reinvest back into a new life, going forward;
4. encourage the counselee to let go and ‘say goodbye’.
Types of Grief Counselling
Different types of counselling are used to facilitate the mourning process, (also see list of recommended resources below).
The first group involves professional services, e.g. doctors, nurses, bereavement counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, all of whom are qualified to provide support to those who have sustained a significant loss.
The second type of grief counselling involves voluntary services where carefully selected volunteers undergo extensive training in grief counselling, under professional guidance.
The third type of service is focussed on self-help groups and organisations, with or without the support of the professionals, where the bereaved help each other come to terms with their personal grief.
When Should Bereavement Counselling Start?
Not everyone needs grief counselling following the death of someone close to them. But, for those who would benefit from such support, it is generally recommended that grief counselling begins no sooner than a week or so after the funeral.
However, in situations where the possibility of speaking to a counsellor has been discussed prior to death, e.g. in a hospice context, the counselling can start whenever it is deemed appropriate.
Recommended Bereavement Support Resources
● BAC (British Association of Counselling):www.counselling.co.uk
● Child Bereavement: www.childbereavement.org.uk
● Child Death Helpline: www.childdeathhelpline.org
● Cruse Bereavement Care: www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk
● Macmillan: www.macmillan.org.uk
● N.H.S. Bereavement Support: www.NHS.uk/CarersDirect
● Samaritans: www.samaritans.org
● TCF: www.tcf.org.uk
● The Bereavement Register: www.the-bereavement-register.org.uk
● UK Sobs: www.uk-sobs.org.uk
● Winston’s Wish: www.winstonswish.org.uk
● The Child Bereavement Charity: www.childbereavement.org.uk
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