How counselling can help when you are bereaved
Any bereavement or loss comes as a huge shock, and whilst there are general and predictable patterns of emotional response to this kind of loss, such as initial disbelief or numbness, followed by anger or depression and leading to a longer or shorter period of readjustment to life, it is also true that everyone reacts differently to a deep personal loss.
This is one of the things that can make it so hard to deal with a bereavement, the fact that the people around us, to whom we might usually turn to for support, might be struggling with their own feelings, or have their own expectations around what might constitute a ‘normal’ way to work through grief.
The thing I hear most frequently said by those struggling with bereavement, regarding the people around them, is ‘they think I should be over it by now, no-one seems to understand what I am going through’
As human beings, we function best when we have a sense that we are not alone with the things we are struggling with. We need to share our emotions and inner personal experiences with others in order to make sense of them.
A bereavement is rather like an earthquake, it shatters the illusion of security in our immediate personal environment; it is as if our previously ordered world has been rendered unrecognisable. We may find that our feelings and behaviours become unpredictable, there may be great emotional turbulence within us and our close relationships. Bereavement unleashes emotional forces that can feel terrifying and overwhelming.
Seeking help from a counsellor or therapist is akin to setting up an initial place of safety within the disaster zone, from where we can start to make sense of the emotional disruption that the bereavement may have stirred up. The process of talking with someone who is not immediately involved helps to re-establish a safe sense of connection with another human being. It is this kind of safe emotional connection that makes it possible for us to process our thoughts and feelings more effectively, so that we can work our way through the bereavement.
Related articles from our experts
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- Grief - our own personal experience
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- Coping with bereavement
Cate Campbell MA, MBACP (Accred), MCOSRT (Accred), MAFT3rd June, 2018
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