Bereavement, Grief and Loss Counselling in North London
We all experience grief differently and there is no ‘normal’ or ‘right’ way to grieve. How we react will be influenced by many different things including our age, our cultural back-ground, our religious beliefs and our previous experiences of bereavement.
Bereavement and the feeling of grief are most often caused by the loss or death of someone significant and close to us. However, it is not always the case that we are close to the person, the death of someone famous such as David Bowie or Princess Diana, could have an impact on us. The loss can cause to bring up feelings of sadness and an opportunity to express our sadness at losing something or someone that had great meaning for us.
Bereavement is one of the most common reasons people seek therapy. Bereavement or grief counselling can provide help through the painful process of coping with loss. An experienced therapist can support you through the difficult process of grieving and help you come to terms with your loss.
What is grief?
Grief is the word we use to describe the feelings and reactions that we have when we lose someone we care about or something we value. Grief affects everyone: it is the universal reaction to loss. It is painful and stressful but also natural, normal and necessary.
We all grieve in our own way and in our own time.
For some people this might mean crying while others may express grief in other ways. It can also be experienced as feeling stuck, numb or having no feeling, as a result of disconnecting from your grief. For some grieving may last months or years, while others may recover from loss more quickly. Reactions and feelings can change from hour to hour and day to day. Some people find these mood swings very frightening.
Bereavement and loss can come in many shapes and be due to varied factors, not just the death of someone important. It’s possible we may also be grieving the loss of a part of our lives or something we never had. This can be triggered by the breakdown of a family, the loss of a parent in a divorce or feeling the impact of neglect as a child. If you were sent away to boarding school or had a parent who was unavailable to you, you may also be grieving how you were separated from your family.
Grief and loss can be found when we have endings, particularly when we feel we had no choice in how those endings happen. Some examples of ending can be the end a period of education, leaving a friendship group, leaving home, the ending of a relationship, the ending of a job or career, beginning a new relationship (the necessary change and sometimes the feeling of the loss of ourselves as individuals), having children and children leaving home. The ripples of endings and loss can impact us in ways we may not be fully away of throughout our lives.
Bereavement & Grief following a death
When someone close to us dies we have to cope and adjust to living in a world which is totally changed. The person we love is no longer part of our world. We may have to let go of some dreams we shared with the person who has died or we may feel there are things we would like to say to the person but will no longer have the chance.
Loss or breakdown of a relationship
Throughout our lives most of us will experience the end or loss of a relationship. This is not exclusive to intimate relationships with partners, but can include loss of friendships, work colleagues or teachers. Loss or change in a relationship can also include our children leaving home (Empty Nest Syndrome), beloved pets dying and of course endings such as divorce and relationship break-ups.
When relationships end or change, for whatever reason, it can be shocking and bring up many other feelings as we come to terms with the shift in our lives. We can feel angry, sad or lonely and may need a space to talk about the complexity of these feelings and experiences to help process them. Once we have allowed ourselves space and time to do this, there is also an opportunity to look at our own patterns of loss and separation which may help us have a different experience in the future.
Some of the most common feelings experienced while grieving include:
Shock and disbelief
It can take some time for the reality of the death to sink in. You don’t want to believe that someone you love has died. The reality can feel almost too much to bear.
You’ve lost so much – the person, their love, their friendship, their companionship, intimacy, opportunities and hopes. And this loss may bring tremendous feelings of sadness.
Guilt and regret
You may feel guilty about things you said or did, or things you didn’t say or do.
Death can seem very unfair. Many people find it difficult to make sense of personal loss.
Sometimes bereaved people can feel angry. This 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 plans for the future together. You might feel angry with yourself too, for what you did or did not do. But perhaps most difficult of all, you might feel angry with the dead person for dying and abandoning you and for the pain you are suffering as a result of their death.
Grieving can be a lonely process. You may feel that no one can possibly understand what you are going through. And you may feel reluctant to talk to friends about how you’re feeling.
Grieving can bring on both physical and mental pain which can be overwhelming and frightening. Some people are surprised at how painful grieving can be.
You might feel relieved, especially if the death follows a long illness or if the person’s life had been difficult or uncomfortable in their final months.
You may internalise the feelings and push them down, which could lead to depression. Feeling low, apathetic, like nothing matters.
Numbness, disassociation and denial
It is common for us to struggle to identify any discernible feelings of loss or sadness. We may experience numbness, being frozen or not wanting to have to deal with the sadness. This may also be a way of holding onto the loss and not wanting to let go yet. You may need time to process and identify the feelings.
Bereavement & Grief Counselling in North London with Abi Jude
Endings, loss and death are all inevitable facts of life.
The feelings people experience in bereavement are unique and everyone will cope with loss in their own way. Although bereavement is a very personal and often traumatic event, most people go through a range of recognisable reactions and emotions.
Bereavement & grief counselling can provide help through the painful process of coping with loss. As an experienced bereavement therapist I support you through the difficult process of grieving and help you come to terms with your loss.
Useful advice and help for coping with grief and loss
The Bereavement Advice Centre
The Bereavement Advice site, has some great links to less obvious help such as ‘Who’s who’ what the different functions are of people involved following a death.
Preparing for your own death?
If you are preparing for your own death, this video gives support.
Dying Matters & Coping with other peoples grief
A couple of slightly different support sites for those dying, those living with or watching someone they love die as well as those bereaved
Coping with other people’s grief: