Losing someone or something you love can be a very challenging and emotionally draining event. Sooner or later this will happen to all of us, which means grief, loss and bereavement are a normal component to our lives. If you are feeling stuck and unable to cope with anger, sadness, guilt or feeling numb, bereavement counselling can help you process these emotions and work through your grief.
What is Bereavement?
Bereavement and grief is experienced when someone close to us dies; this can be a person or a pet. When this happens, we experience a loss that may leave a hole in our lives. Everyone’s experience of bereavement is unique yet there can be common experiences that are shared among people who have lost someone.
It is common to be in a state of shock. Some people may throw themselves into the practicalities whilst others may struggle to function. People can be extremely tearful, may feel panicky and anxious or feel numb.
What are the signs and symptoms of Bereavement and Grief?
Bereavement and grief means often having to go through many difficult and complex emotions. Typically people experiencing grief will notice a variety of changes at multiple levels, although these can vary greatly from person to person as we all grief in our own way.
- Feeling restless or fatigued/weak
- Changes in appetite (overeating or eating too little)
- Derealisation (unfamiliarity, confusion and feelings or alienation)
- Shortness of breath & feelings of emptiness
- Pains and feelings of sickness
- Sadness, longing, apathy and numbness
- Fear and anxiety
- Hopelessness, helplessness and a sense of abandonment
- Anger and irritability
- Difficulties experiencing joy
- Forgetfulness , Absent-mindedness and difficulties concentrating
- Sleep difficulties (e.g., insomnia or nightmares)
- Social withdrawal and Isolation
- Inactivity or overactivity
- Rumination (i.e., repetitive questions such as “why did this happen to me?”)
- Negative thoughts around worthlessness and meaninglessness
- Trying to stop/suppress/avoid thoughts about the loss
If you find that several of the above match with your experience it would be a good idea to get in touch for a free consultation to see if you would like to pursue private grief counselling.
The Seven Stages of Bereavement, Grief and Loss
It is believed that there are seven stages of grief which are anger, disbelief, bargaining, denial, guilt, depression and finally acceptance. People can progress through these stages at different rates and it is normal for this to take time. However, some people can become stuck and struggle to move through the stages. This can contribute to emotional difficulties, such as depression and anxiety, which can have a detrimental impact upon various areas of an individual’s life. It’s the negative impact on our ability to function in our everyday life that can tell us whether we need help, such as grief and bereavement counselling or therapy.
1- Shock and Denial
Often people experience a state of shock. This is usually the first reaction to a bereavement where it can feel like you are in a daze and can’t comprehend that the person you have lost is not coming back. Some people experience numbness which may help when dealing with the practicalities following the death of someone and it can seem that they are carrying on as if nothing has happened. Others may struggle to function and find everyday tasks challenging.
Many people experience anger following the death of someone. This anger may be directed towards medical staff for not doing enough, towards friends and family perhaps for not helping enough or towards the individual who has died, perhaps due to leaving them.
To cope with feeling out of control, vulnerable and helpless, people can look for ways to regain control. In an attempt to feel that they can affect the outcomes of events. For example, some people with religious beliefs may make a bargain or promise with God in return to be relieved of their pain and suffering.
People may experience guilt over things they did or didn’t do. Often people perceive that they didn’t do enough for the person that died.
The magnitude of the loss can contribute to depression or low mood. This can include feeling sad, becoming withdrawn, a loss of appetite and experiencing aches and pains. People can think lots about the person they have lost, including reflecting upon past memories of that person. Associated with depression can be a sense of loneliness and emptiness. This is often the moment people seek bereavement counselling or therapy.
This is the final stage of the process of grief. This involves letting go of anger and no longer bargaining. People in this stage plan for the future and anticipate enjoyable times. They still experience sadness when thinking about the person that they lost, particularly during significant dates, such as anniversaries and birthdays. However, the sadness is not all encompassing and prolonged.
When Should I Seek Counselling for Bereavement and Grief?
People may think to themselves that grief is normal and so they shouldn’t seek therapy but instead deal with it on their own. It is true that grief is indeed a normal experience which can be managed without professional help, however, for some people it can be a particularly difficult and complicated process and you may be struggling to cope. For some people the grieving process can strongly impair their ability to function in their everyday life as well as they would like. This could mean the deterioration of existing important relationships through isolation. It can also translate into overworking as a way of not thinking about their loss, which might in turn lead to burnout and further distress.
Losing a significant one can be one of the most stressful events in somebody’s life, and the long-term effects of grief, if left untreated, can lead to more serious mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Therefore, if you feel stuck at any of the stages of grief or you realise your bereavement has triggered several negative consequences in your everyday life, it could be helpful for you to seek help from a bereavement counselling service. You will be able to talk to a professional bereavement counsellor or therapist who is trained to help people coping with grief, manage their loss and prevent more serious potential long-term mental health consequences of bereavement.
It could be particularly important to seek professional help with grief if:
- You have little social support
- Your loss happened violently or unexpectedly
- The person you lost was very young (e.g., a child)
- You have a difficult childhood history
What to Expect from Grief Counselling? How Does it Work?
Your grief therapist will begin by asking you about your loss, how you have been coping and the impact it is having upon your life. You will be asked about your relationship and experiences with that person along with how you are managing day-to-day and the emotional impact the loss has had upon you.
Your bereavement counsellor will support you to better understand the grieving process, to process your grief and assist you in working through the stages of grief. You will be supported to work through difficult feelings around your loss. As well as adjust to the changes in your life and learn ways to cope during this difficult time.
By the end of therapy you will be in a better position to rebuild your life, whilst accepting and respecting the reality of your loss.
How Long Does Bereavement Counselling Take?
Although there are similar stages that people go through when facing a bereavement, the grieving process is unique for each individual. Some people require support from a bereavement counsellor for a short period whilst others benefit from receiving support over a longer period. There is no set time for how long the grieving process should take but with the support of the therapist you can more easily work through your difficulties around your loss.
Does Bereavement Counselling Help? What are the Benefits?
Asking help for bereavement from a trained professional can have several positive effects, including:
- Provide support in specific areas of your life where you are finding it difficult to cope
- Provide the space to talk about your grief and the resources to allow you to accept your loss
- Identify the most helpful strategies to increase your ability to cope
- Help you reduce or prevent social withdrawal and reverse it
- Help you
- Feeling understood and helped in recognising that your emotions are normal
Bereavement and Grief Counselling in Central London
If you are looking for help with bereavement and grief in London, at Therapy Central we can provide you with the safe and confidential space to explore difficult emotions around your loss. We can also help you learn the strategies you need to start making practical adjustments to ease your grieving process and prevent more serious mental health issues in the future. With bereavement counselling you’ll be enabled to work through your grief and eventually bring balance and fulfilment back into your life.
The death of a loved one can be an extremely difficult event to experience, but you don’t have to face bereavement and grief alone. Start working through it with a bereavement counsellor in London today.
Start working through your grief in London Today
Get professional Grief and Bereavement Counselling in central London – Contact us now, and request a 15 minutes free consultation with a Bereavement counsellor today to understand if our help is something you would benefit from in this difficult moment. You can also get in touch via email at email@example.com or call us at (+44) 020 348 82797
Our comfortable and confidential rooms are conveniently located 3 min walk from Oxford Circus station, in Central London (see map below)
NHS (coping with Bereavement and Grief)
Cruse (largest UK Bereavement registered charity)
Other issues we work with at Therapy Central
“How to go on living when someone you love dies” by Therese Rando
“I wasn’t ready to say goodbye” by Noel and Blair
“Bearing the unbearable” by Joanne Cacciatore
“It’s ok that you’re not ok” by Megan Divine
Dr Raffaello Antonino, Counselling Psychologist
Dr Amy Smith, Counselling Psychologist