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What Actually Happens In Grief And Bereavement Counselling?

Have you ever wondered what actually happens in grief counselling? What does bereavement counselling entail and will it help you? This guide covers all the ins and outs of counselling services for grief and bereavement before you take the plunge.

Grief support

Grief and Bereavement

Losing a loved one is an inevitable part of life. The grief and mourning which follow can be unavoidable, and horribly overwhelming.

Whilst periods of grief are normal, when feelings of sadness get too much, or go on for too long, it can be useful to seek professional help. Grief counselling is widely recognised as a valid port of call for anyone seeking support in this time- but how does it actually work? And can it help you through your difficult emotions?

Understanding the Grief Process

Grief is a natural and complex response to the death of someone significant in our lives. Whilst there are common themes, the range of emotions, physical symptoms and thoughts experienced vary greatly from person to person.

Similarly, grief is not a linear process. Timescales differ for each person and circumstance, and there's no right or wrong way to grieve a loved one.

However, in understanding the general stages of grief, many people find comfort in knowing these difficult feelings are not permanent, and are part of the processing journey.

Often in grief counselling, a professional will help guide you through your own unique experiences within a framework of this understanding- helping you to articulate your own emotions and work through them in a positive way.

Understanding the Five Stages of Grief

Denial and Shock

In the immediate aftermath of a family or friend's death, many individuals experience shock and disbelief. Especially if death is unexpected, then difficulty comprehending the finality of this loss can lead into a sense of denial.

Anger and Guilt

As the shock subsides, feelings of anger, resentment, and guilt may arise. These emotions can be directed at oneself, the deceased, or even at others who may not fully understand the depth of the pain. Whilst these can be confusing and unexpected to experience, they are a very common part of grief.


During this stage of grief, individuals may find themselves in thought experiments of ‘what ifs’ or trying to predict the future to avoid future pain. This is often seen as a way of seeking control or attempting to change the outcome of the loss.

Depression and Sadness

The depth of a loss often becomes more apparent during this stage- leading to feelings of deep sadness, loneliness, and despair. This stage can be immensely challenging, and can sometimes represent the ‘never ending’ rut which prompts some to seek professional help.

Acceptance and Healing

With the help of time and support, it is possible to begin to accept the reality of a loss and find ways to move forward. This does not mean forgetting or minimising the significance of a death, but rather learning to live with the pain and find meaning in life once again.

The Role of Grief Counselling

Grief and bereavement counselling is a specialised form of therapy designed to support individuals through the mourning process. It offers a safe and compassionate space for individuals to express their emotions, explore their grief, and develop coping strategies.

But what can you actually get out of this form of counselling?

Emotional Support

The grieving process can be isolating, and individuals often feel overwhelmed by the intensity of their emotions. Grief and bereavement counselling provides a supportive environment where individuals can freely express their feelings without judgement. Professional counsellors help create a safe space for grieving individuals to share their pain, fears, and frustrations. And in not bottling all of this up, many feel an immense sense of relief and support to experience these emotions.

Validation and Normalisation

In grief and bereavement counselling, individuals are reassured that their emotions and experiences are valid and normal reactions to loss. Understanding that grief manifests differently for everyone can alleviate feelings of guilt or confusion. What’s more, it can make these feelings less frightening to share them in the presence of a professional.

Coping Strategies

Grief counsellors are all about helping you develop healthy coping mechanisms to navigate the challenges of grief. They provide tools and techniques to manage distressing emotions, cope with triggers, and find ways to honour the memory of the deceased.

Education and Information

Grief and bereavement counselling also involves providing individuals with information about the grief process, including the stages of grief and the range of emotions they may experience. Knowledge empowers individuals to understand their journey better and fosters a sense of control amidst the chaos of grief.

Practical Aspects of Grief Counselling

In addition to emotional support, grief and bereavement counselling addresses practical aspects that may arise during the mourning period. At a time where emotions are high, it can be hard to navigate these practical considerations solo.

Here are some key areas that may be explored during counselling sessions:

Funeral and Memorial Planning

Grief counsellors can assist you in making funeral or memorial arrangements, ensuring that the process aligns with your wishes and provides an opportunity for meaningful tribute and closure. In helping you to understand your own emotions, a grief counsellor can help you understand your needs from the funeral itself.

Financial Considerations

The death of a loved one can have financial implications, and grief counsellors can provide emotional support to the stress which accompanies this. You might not feel like sharing these details with your friends, and a grief counsellor can provide impartial advice on how to emotionally manage this time.

Support Networks

Grief and bereavement counselling helps individuals identify and connect with support networks. This can include grief support groups, community resources, or online forums where they can find solace and understanding among others who have experienced loss. Similarly, a grief counsellor can help you articulate the need for support from those around you.

How Safewill Can Help

Safewill provides an easy to use and flexible online platform for all your end of life needs- helping to make the admin that bit better at the worst of times, and help you just when you need it most.

It’s why our service makes it easier than ever to handle the unavoidable paperwork of a loved one's death, why our team is available to support at all hours of the day, and why we maintain a compassionate approach to all that we do.

Reach out to one of our compassionate experts today on 1800 10 33 10 or get in touch via live chat, to find out how we can help support you today.

Last updated 26th May 2023
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Hannah Comiskey
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