What is Bereavement?
Bereavement is the sense of loss and grief we feel after the death of someone we care about.
Grief is very subjective; it can’t be measured. The abundance of emotions that result from the death of a loved one can be overwhelming. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Grief is a unique experience.
Bereavement can trigger many different emotions and reactions depending on the particular circumstances, which are by their nature unique for each person. It also often brings out wider unresolved issues.
Clinical viewpoints of grief can see it as something to overcome or to fix, rather than something that just needs to be supported. Grief is not a disorder but a natural response to loss.
According to Professor Robert Niemeyer, life is accompanied by a continuing self-narrative by which we organise our understanding of our world and day-to-day events. Grief interrupts that narrative. It is a brutal change that separates us from a known and valuable past and throws us into a world that is now alien and strange. It is normal to feel deeply disorientated and in pain when we grieve as it is a traumatising transition.
How can counselling help with bereavement?
Not everybody needs bereavement counselling. The body has an inbuilt capacity to heal and it should be trusted. It is important to allow yourself to experience the inevitable pain that follows the death of a loved one. Going through that pain can be hard and a very lonely journey. It is necessary to allow that experience to seep into your body at its natural pace, with lots of self care and self compassion. Loss hurts.
Sometimes you may feel stuck in your grieving, as if you are not passing through the experience, or you may think there is a grief issue underlying a particular mental or physical condition.
While some people will navigate their way through their grief with the help of family and friends, others may find it easier to talk to a counsellor.
In therapy you can give a voice to all the feelings around your grief that you are carrying with you. This is sometimes not easy in normal social conventions as some people feel uncomfortable with the subject of loss or they may try to cheer you up, which you may not find helpful.
In counselling there is no need to regulate your feelings, judge them, compare them to others or medicalise them. They just can be carried as they are. As a counsellor I will be a witness to those feelings. Your pain cannot be taken away but it can be listened to.
Sometimes to have a secure presence that gives you that space to express how you feel can be profoundly stabilising.
If you have any comments or would like to know more about how counselling can help you to control your bereavement or loss, feel free to email me at:
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An educational guide to help you understand how to best cope with Grief