Bereavement counselling

At some point in our lives we lose someone with whom we have an emotional attachment to; whether the relationship was a positive or negative experience the result of the loss can be devastating and very painful for some people.

Some are emotionally overwhelmed following a loss whilst others try to control the difficult feelings and continue on with their life.

Either way, it can be a frightening time as you may experience mood swings; have trouble sleeping, eating or feeling motivated; you may feel lethargic or exhausted; you may have difficulty concentrating or experience memory loss. You might be thinking you could have done more for the person during an illness or ruminating over your last interactions with them; some find they have difficulties in relationships; feel angry or low or not feel anything at all; some people feel out of control and others feel as if they are going mad.

These are all symptoms of grief and it is very usual following a loss to experience some or many of them.

Those that have lost a partner or a parent they cared for may feel isolated. Many find that friends or family are well meaning but after a period are wanting you to move on from your grief.

If you have lost a family member, it might be hard to find the space for your grief in the family home or the kind of support you need from others as they may also be grieving. People grieve in different ways, there is no normal way and within a family home this can create some challenging dynamics. When we are caught up in our own process it is sometimes hard to see our behaviours and how it impacts others around us.

What are the emotions of grief?

Shock: I can't believe it'; ' I feel nothing'; 'Why did it have to happen?'

It may take you a long time to grasp what has happened. The shock can make you feel numb, you may feel you're in a different world. Some people carry on as if nothing has happened. It is hard to believe that someone important is not coming back. Many feel disorientated and almost as if they have lost their pace in life.

 Disbelief:  “They’ll walk through the door in a minute”; “I keep thinking when I go home,  xxx will be there”.

The mind finds it hard to accept such a sudden change of your reality, it holds onto the patterns that it has been used to.

Relief:  “I’m so glad she isn’t suffering anymore”; “I’m so exhausted from caring for him I’m relieved in some way”.

 If someone has been ill and in pain or you have had to care for them for a while it can be a relief that this is now over. It can be hard to voice this feeling as it evokes guilt but it is important to acknowledge your experience.

Denial:   “I’m doing fine thanks”; “I’m very busy with work at the moment".

Some people’s coping mechanism when faced with stressful situations is to either deny there is a problem or use something as an excuse not to face the situation. This may be the approach they have used most of their lives and it often works as the situation resolves itself.

However we can’t suppress our feelings of grief forever. Either they eat away inside and often lead to depression, or they eventually come out when we least expect them, often years later, when we experience another bereavement.

Guilt: “If only...”; “I shouldn’t think that way”.

You may feel guilty about things you said or did, or that you didn't say or do. It is important to remember, at the time, that you did not have the power of hindsight you now possess.

Anger: “My friends are so selfish”; “The doctors messed up”.

Anger is a completely normal part of the grieving process. Death can seem cruel and unfair, especially when you feel someone has died before their time or when you had special plans for the future together.

You might find you feel angry or resentful towards others; maybe friends for not being understanding;or someone in the medical profession if the person had been ill.

Many people are shocked to find how angry they feel, perhaps at the person who has died for leaving them, this can leads to guilt.

Confusion: "I can't think straight";  "I'm experiencing such conflicting emotions ie anger; guilt; relief; its all so confusing".

During grief we often experience many conflicting emotions which the mind finds hard to make any sense of, leaving us confused. 

Fear: “I’m worried about my children going out now”; “I feel unwell, I’m worried I’ve got something nasty?”

Fear can manifest in many ways: as over-protectiveness of others; fear of personal health problems; fear of being alone.

Sadness: “I feel low"; "I don't want to go out or see anyone"; "life has no meaning anymore”.

Some people say there are times after a death when they feel there is nothing worth living for, they can't be bothered to get out of bed or go out, a few feel like ending it all. This is a normal reaction which disappears as the grief subsides.

Happiness:  It’s too exhausting to be in emotional turmoil all the time, so sometimes the mind allows us to forget for a while and feel happy. Some people feel guilty when they realise they have not thought about the person who's died for a while.

So perhaps you could benefit from somewhere safe to explore your feelings? You can control this at your own pace and we can work together to help you cope with anything that feels too overwhelming.

As an experienced bereavement counsellor, I will support you through this difficult life crisis so that you may go through the natural grieving process.  

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