Counselling for grief offers you the opportunity to talk about your loss or bereavement in a safe environment. Grief responses can affect us emotionally, physically, spiritually and socially. It is hard to find ways to cope with the relentless pain of grief. There are no right or wrong ways to grieve; no time limits, no life manual. Pain is a good friend of grief. We want to resist it, but it won’t go away and wears out its welcome.
There are many different types of grief and loss. You may be grieving the loss of a relationship, home, job, pet, or a life transition. The hardest grief of all can be the loss of a loved one. As humans, we are made for connection and losing someone that we love can feel unbearable. We all experience it at some time or another.
It is difficult to accept the reality of loss. The experience of grief and loss can lead to prolonged periods of sadness. If you do not get the support that you need, this sadness may develop into anxiety and depression. Sometimes it can be hard to find the right person to share your feelings with that will provide the comfort and nurturing that you need. Grief counselling will provide a source of comfort and strength to allow the healing process to begin.
Emotional reactions of grief include:
Physical reactions of grief include:
- feeling of emptiness
- tightness in your chest or throat
- oversensitivity to noise
- difficulty breathing
- dry mouth
- loss of appetite
- comfort eating
- difficulties sleeping
- bodily aches and pains
What is grief counselling and how can it help?
Grief counselling gives you a safe, empathetic and non-judgemental environment to express your thoughts and feelings. Healing from grief is not linear. Just as we are unique and individual as humans, so is the experience of grief. There is nothing worse than someone telling you how to grieve or hearing that it just a matter of time. For some of us, those close to us may expect us to carry their grief for them. This is an impossible expectation and burden as everyone needs to be able to do this in their own time, in a way that feels right for them.
Mourning the death of a loved one is a confusing time as our emotions can appear in conflict with each other. You may be oscillating between guilt, shock, anger, sadness, helplessness, relief, acceptance and hope. You may feel that you are going mad or losing your mind as you struggle to think straight or remember simple things. This is often the body’s short-term response to stress and anxiety. The multitude of emotions may feel abnormal, uncomfortable, or at times become too overwhelming to manage. This will pass as we accept our grief.
For most of us, the greatest losses experienced are those of family members. Families often fall apart during grief. With each loss there are additional losses that need to be identified and confronted as the family adapts. Families may need to come to counselling together to understand intergenerational relational patterns of conflict and mourning.
Counselling can help you to understand what is happening for you right now. Giving yourself permission to grieve in a natural state of being is essential for healing. It is totally normal to feel a plethora of emotions and reactions. You are going to grieve whether you want to or not. But giving yourself permission can be a lot easier than fighting your emotions and prolonging suffering.
Counselling helps you to show yourself some kindness and compassion in the grieving process. It also fosters healthy ways of remembering the deceased. Learning how to adjust and adapt to intense loss will help you to renew and rebuild your life through setting realistic goals in accordance with your values.