If you are considering accessing counselling for bereavement or loss you may have some specific questions about this. I hope this page is helpful in answering some of these questions for you.
What is bereavement counselling?
Life will never be the same again after the death of someone you love. Over time though, grief and pain should lessen and you will come to adapt and be able to cope with life again.
Where you do not feel you are coping or where you are not getting the support you need from those around you, bereavement counselling can provide you with the space and time to explore your thoughts and feelings in a safe, supportive environment.
Bereavement counselling can help you to adjust to the loss you have experienced and to begin to rebuild your life and your identity.
Where the death happened some time ago, bereavement counselling can help you to explore and make better sense of the impact the death had – and continues to have – for you.
You may wish to visit here to read more about the counselling I offer.
Does bereavement counselling help?
Most people who access bereavement counselling find that it helps them gain more awareness around their thoughts and feelings around the death they have experienced. It helps them to cope with the death and to adjust to the new landscape of their life. People often say that they notice an improvement in their relationships with others and feel more able to communicate openly about their thoughts and feelings.
You may have specific ideas about what you hope to gain from bereavement counselling. Please get in touch to see how counselling may be able to help.
Do I need bereavement counselling?
Everyone experiences grief differently; it can be helpful to know that there is no ‘right’ or ‘normal’ way to grieve. However, you may wish to seek bereavement counselling where you find that you are not coping following the death of a loved one or where you find that your grief and pain is not lessening.
You may need bereavement counselling where grief is impacting you in ways which feel hard to deal with for instance, affecting your sleep, your relationships with others, your work life, your study or your motivation.
You may find that you are turning to ways of coping such as drugs, alcohol or constant distraction which you recognise are unhealthy for you.
People often talk of feeling ‘stuck’ in their grieving process. Bereavement counselling can help to create a shift and to enable you to see a way forward.
What does bereavement counselling involve?
Bereavement counselling involves providing a safe, supportive environment within which you can explore your thoughts, feelings and experiences at your own pace.
You may wish simply to talk through the different facets of your feelings or you may prefer to work in more creative ways. Some ways of working which can be used during bereavement counselling include:
- Geneograms or ‘family trees’
- Sculpt exercises using stones, shells or other objects
- Letter writing
Where it feels especially difficult to talk about the death you have experienced it can be helpful to bring in photographs of the person or objects connected to them which have special meaning for you.
How long after a death can I access bereavement counselling?
You can access bereavement counselling at any point following a death. Many people find that they are able to cope with the weeks immediately following the death, especially where they are busy with tasks such as organising the funeral and other practical matters. Often it can be in the months and years after the practical matters have been dealt with that people turn to bereavement counselling.
Some people do not come for help or support until a significant period of time has passed following the death (10, 20, 30 or 40 years is not uncommon). The desire to seek help and support now is often but not always triggered by a more recent experience for instance, a subsequent bereavement or reaching a new life stage in your own life.
As mentioned previously, grief is a natural process but everyone experiences it differently. There is no ‘normal’ or ‘right’ way to grieve.
Some people find it beneficial to access pre-bereavement counselling where they are facing the expected death of a loved one. This can help you to adjust to the idea of loss and to cope with this very difficult period of time.
Can I get bereavement counselling for free through my GP/ the NHS?
You may be able to obtain bereavement counselling through your GP for instance through IAPT (‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’) which is designed to help improve access to talking therapies. The first step would be to talk to your GP if you would like to go down this route.
Your GP may be unable to offer you counselling within the NHS but may instead suggest that you speak to a charity who provides bereavement counselling in your area, for instance Cruse Bereavement Care have a branch in Sheffield.
Provision will differ depending on what is locally available in your area and there is likely to be a waiting list within both charities and the NHS in order to access support.
Does bereavement counselling work for children?
Most children will be able to cope with the death of a close family member or friend, especially if their family can talk about what is happening and help them to understand their thoughts and feelings.
Bereavement counselling can be really helpful for children who are struggling following the death of a loved one and where the changes they are experiencing persist or become severe. Charities such as Cruse Bereavement Care will typically support children from the age of 5 upwards either one-to-one or in groups. Winstons Wish are another charity who help support bereaved children. They can also provide some wonderful age appropriate resources via their website to help parents, caregivers and schools to support children with their grief.