Bereavement is one of the most common reasons people seek counselling and though it is a painful experience, it is also natural and essential process in response to losing someone or something close to us. Though death and loss are an inevitable part of life, people who are faced with these experiences often find it overwhelmingly distressing and painful, causing a deep sense of sadness, shock, anger and numbness. These feelings all form part of the grieving process which for some, can be a long and painful journey.
We all experience and deal with grief differently and this can be influenced by our age, religious beliefs, cultural background and previous experiences of bereavement. Some people may express their grief by crying, whilst others may express their grief in a different way. For some people, grieving may last for months or even years whilst others are able to recover from their loss much more quickly. Feelings and responses can change from day to day, but it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. It is a very personal process and one which is hugely important.
There are some common stages in the grieving process, these are:
Shock and denial: Often it can take time for people to believe that someone close to them has died, this reality can often be too much to bear.
Anger and guilt: Death can often feel cruel and unfair, especially if someone has died at an early age or they have passed away in circumstances that could have been prevented. People's responses to the death of someone close can result in a variety reactions. These can include blaming others or ourselves for our loss, blaming the person for dying and the pain you are suffering as a result of their death. You may also become easily agitated and experience emotional outbursts. All these responses are completely natural in the grieving process.
Depression: This might involve symptoms such as irritability, changes in appetite, lethargy, loss of motivation and social withdrawal. You may have a feeling of loneliness and emptiness and that life has no purpose anymore.
Acceptance: Most people will eventually find a way to accept their loss and realise that life must go on. Whilst you may still think and care for the person, pet or object you have lost, the feelings and thoughts may be les intense and less frequent.
It can take time to enter these stages and this process cannot be hurried.
How can counselling help me with my bereavement and grief?
Although the death of a loved one is the main reason why people seek counselling, bereavement can also occur as a result of a redundancy, the break up of a relationship/friendship, or moving home. Counselling can help people come to terms with their loss whatever it may be the result of.
We understand how difficult the bereavement process can be and we are committed to helping you explore your feelings in a safe and confidential environment, supporting you to make adjustments you need so you can achieve your goals and a greater sense of wellbeing.