Bereavement CounsellingAt Catalyst Counselling I focus on providing professional grief counselling when clients are struggling to cope with their grief. The following approach is based on experience of working with bereaved clients and also knowledge of the various emotions and models of grief.
The Catalyst Grief Counselling Approach:• Providing an objective ear that has not been personally impacted by the death. Often people feel unable to talk to their family and friends in case they upset them or they feel they don’t understand. Research has shown that men and women tend to grieve differently and this can mean a client doesn’t feel able to get the support they need from their partner or they find they don’t want to upset their partner if they seem ok at that moment.
• Providing re-assurance that what they are experiencing is normal and common in bereavement and that ‘They are not going crazy’ which so many people feel due to the overwhelming nature of grief.
• Introducing the concept that they don’t have to ‘let go of the person’ to recover from this. The aim is to adjust to the fact that the person is gone and let go of the struggle to bring the deceased person back and to be living the life they had before. This adjustment allows the client to take some brave steps into their new life without that person, whilst very much keeping the memories of that person with them.
• Providing re-assurance that it’s ok to still be grieving for months and years after the bereavement. So often I hear from clients that they and society think they should be over it now and that may only be 3-6 months after the death. I emphasise that there is no time limit of when a person ‘should be over it’. It’s personal to you.
Some clients will benefit simply from having an objective, supportive place that they can come and talk about the memories of the deceased person and how they feel, for as long as they like after the death.
But in some cases a client may have become ‘stuck’ in the grief process and so does not seem able to feel anything other than one particular grief emotion, such as anger or denial, for a prolonged period of time. Here I use counselling skills to help the client identify what is keeping them stuck in that feeling and work with them to progress beyond that stuckness.
The same grief emotions and process are felt in reaction to other losses besides bereavement, such as divorce and loss of lifestyle due to illness. In these situations a person will similarly experience feelings such as anger at the loss, denial and despair. So the same grief counselling approach can help. Often a client will find it very enlightening to hear that what they are experiencing is a grief reaction for their loss as they only associated grief with bereavement.
At Catalyst Counselling I also provide grief counselling for an emotional reaction known as ‘Anticipatory Grief’.
Anticipatory grief can occur when we become aware that a partner or relative is facing an impending death. Anticipatory grief can include many of the same emotions as post-bereavement grief such as depression but also includes concern and fear for how both yourself and your loved one will cope with this knowledge and the time limit on your time together. A person can also experience a sense of guilt and abandonment when they start to take small steps to living an independent life again, when a partner or relative they have cared for, with dementia for example, reaches a stage where they cannot recognise that person anymore or can’t be cared for at home anymore.