Loss and Bereavement Counselling
Loss and bereavement counselling helps the individual work through the feelings associated with the loss of another, accept that loss, determine how life can go on without that person, and consolidate memories in order to be able to move forward. Grief counselling also provides information about the normal grieving process, to help individuals understand that many of the symptoms and changes they are experiencing are a normal, temporary reaction to loss. For some individuals, the primary focus of grief counselling is to help identify ways to express feelings about the loss that the person has been unable to expresson his or her own. Individuals who seek grief counselling may be experiencing an emotional numbness, or a residual shock in reaction to the loss, and need assistance to return to a normal life. In those cases, grief counselling will focus on helping the individual get in touch with those feelings and become more active in the daily routine. This often requires accepting the loss as a reality.
For some people, grieving may initially be so extreme that physical and psychological symptoms may be experienced, while other people appear to experience no symptoms whatsoever, similar to the numbness described above. Activities of daily living may feel overwhelming to an individual who has experienced a loss. In these cases, grief counselling may focus on specific coping skills to help the individual resume some normalcy in his or her daily routine. For example, if sleep patterns are disrupted, grief counselling may include consultation with the individual’s physician to assist with temporary strategies to increase sleep. If the individual is having trouble getting to work on time, behavioral strategies may be used as an interim measure to help the person return to aspects of normal daily life.
Additional work in grief counselling may involve identifying ways to let go or say good-bye if the individual has not been able to do so successfully. Therapeutic letters may be a helpful mechanism to express thoughts that were not conveyed prior to the death. Dreams are frequently experienced by survivors, and these can be a focus in grief counselling as well. The dreams can often be a way of consolidating the memories about the deceased.