Bereavement counselling is designed to help people move through the stages of bereavement and learn how to cope with the death of a loved one. Specifically, bereavement counselling can:
- offer an understanding of the mourning process
- explore areas that could potentially prevent you from moving on
- help resolve areas of conflict still remaining
- help you to adjust to a new sense of self
- address possible issues of depression or suicidal thoughts
You will probably never stop missing the person you lost, but with enough time and the right support, a new life can be pieced together and purpose can be reclaimed.
Bereavement counselling aims to get you to the point where you can function normally - however long it takes. Find a counsellor who resonates with you today.
All loss is devastating. However, grief after suicide can be a particularly complex process. Family and friends left behind when someone dies by suicide often experience confusing feelings.
Self-directed anger and guilt are natural reactions. It's easy to start blaming yourself and wondering if you could have done something to help. It's also natural to feel angry at the person themselves, asking what were they thinking? How could they do this to you? Why didn't they tell you how they were feeling?
While everyone's grief is different, there are generally thought to be three stages of suicide grief:
1. Numbness or shock
At first you might feel like you've stepped into a slightly different dimension. Everything will feel different and it's possible that you'll even want to distance yourself from others to avoid facing what's happened.
Eventually you will come to a point where you'll be ready to address what's happened. You might feel lonely and deeply sad at this point. People often have trouble eating, sleeping and functioning normally. It's during this stage that people tend to go over and over the days leading up to their loved one's suicide, agonising over what they could have done and wondering why it happened.
Over time the initial shock and horror of the situation will begin to fade as your loss becomes a part of your life. You will begin to get back into the day-to-day swing of things and soon you will be able to focus on other things in your life.
Whatever the circumstances, know that one day, it is possible for you to find happiness again. By creating a place to keep the person you lost, and finding ways to remember them (like anniversary celebrations, or leaving flowers at a memorial site), you should be able to preserve their memory and honour the impact they had on your life, without letting their absence obscure your own future.
With time, pain does settle.
What should I be looking for in a counsellor or psychotherapist?
Currently there are no official rules or regulations in place that stipulate what level of training a bereavement counsellor needs. However, it is recommended that you check to see if your therapist is experienced in this area.
A Diploma level qualification (or equivalent) in bereavement counselling or a related topic will provide assurance and peace of mind that your counsellor has developed the necessary skills.
Another way to assure they have undergone this type of specialist training is to check if they belong to a relevant professional organisation representing counsellors dealing with bereavement.
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