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How Soon Should You Start Bereavement Counselling?

How Soon Should You Start Bereavement Counselling?

Losing a loved one is one of life’s most challenging experiences. Coping with grief can feel overwhelming, and many find solace in seeking support.

Bereavement counselling offers a safe space to navigate the complexities of loss and begin the healing journey.

But when should you start?

Let’s take a look at what bereavement is, how counselling can help, and when you should talk to a grief therapist:

What is Bereavement?

Bereavement is the experience of mourning the death of a loved one. It can include a range of emotions, from profound sadness to anger and confusion. Grief is a natural response to loss, and each individual experiences it uniquely.

What are the Three C’s of Grief?

Choose

When facing grief, individuals are presented with choices on how to cope. These choices can include seeking professional support, relying on friends and family, or exploring personal coping mechanisms.

Connect

Connecting with supportive individuals is crucial during times of grief. Sharing emotions and experiences with others who understand can provide comfort and help with feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Communicate

Open and honest communication about experiences and feelings is essential in the grieving process. Whether through conversation, writing, or other forms of expression, communication fosters healing and understanding.

Can Bereavement Counselling Help With Grief?

Explore Emotions in a Safe Space

In bereavement counselling, individuals are provided with a safe environment where they can freely express and explore their emotions.

This safe space allows for the processing of complex feelings such as sadness, anger, guilt, or even relief, which may arise during the grieving process.

Understand the Grieving Process

Grief is not a linear journey – it’s a highly individualized experience with its own twists and turns.

Bereavement counselling offers insight into the stages of grief, such as shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, as outlined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

However, it’s important to recognize that every experience is unique. Not everyone will go through these stages of grief in the same order or experience each stage to the same degree.

Grief therapists help individuals understand that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve.

Develop Coping Mechanisms and Strategies

One of the primary goals of bereavement counselling is to equip individuals with practical coping mechanisms and strategies to manage the intense feelings and challenges that arise during the grieving process.

Therapists work collaboratively with clients to identify healthy coping mechanisms that resonate with their unique needs and circumstances.

This may include relaxation techniques, mindfulness exercises, journaling, engaging in creative outlets, or establishing routines that provide a sense of stability and control.

Navigate the Complexities of Loss

Loss is not merely the absence of a loved one but a profound restructuring of one’s inner world and external reality.

Bereavement counselling helps individuals navigate the multifaceted complexities of loss, including existential questions, spiritual dilemmas, and changes in identity and relationships.

Grief therapists offer guidance and support as clients grapple with issues of meaning, purpose, and the existential implications of mortality.

How Soon Should You Have Bereavement Counselling?

A number of timelines have been offered by experts for when to begin grief counselling; anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months after a loss. However, there is no evidence based timeline and each journey is unique. 

Some people may never need the support of a therapist, while others may feel numb for a month and then suddenly become overwhelmed by an influx of emotion, and others still may struggle years after a loss when a life experience increases distress related to a loss. 

Regardless of the timeline, seeking bereavement counselling may be beneficial if you experience:

Persistent Feelings of Overwhelming Sadness

If persistent feelings of sadness seem to dominate your thoughts and emotions for an extended period after the loss of a loved one, it may be time to consider bereavement counselling.

Grief can feel like an emotional rollercoaster, but if the overwhelming sadness persists and interferes with your ability to function or find moments of relief, seeking professional support can provide much-needed guidance and assistance.

Inability to Perform Daily Tasks

If you find yourself struggling to complete basic tasks such as getting out of bed, going to work, or taking care of yourself or your family, you could benefit from bereavement counselling.

A grief therapist can help you develop strategies to manage your responsibilities while navigating the complexities of grief and loss.

Social Withdrawal

Grief can often lead to feelings of isolation and withdrawal from social interactions. If you find yourself withdrawing from friends, family, or activities that you once enjoyed, it may be a sign that you need additional support.

Bereavement counselling can provide a safe space to explore these feelings of loneliness and reconnect with others who can offer support and understanding during this challenging time.

Intrusive Thoughts

If you find yourself constantly preoccupied with thoughts of your loss, experiencing flashbacks, or having dreams or nightmares related to the event, it may be beneficial to seek professional help.

A grief therapist can help you address these symptoms and find healthy ways to cope with them.

Impacted Mental Health

The loss of a loved one can have a significant impact on your mental health, potentially exacerbating existing conditions such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

If you notice an exacerbation of an underlying condition or experience symptoms such as persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, disordered eating it’s essential to seek support from a licensed medical professional.

Bereavement counselling can provide tailored interventions to address your specific mental health needs and facilitate healing and recovery.

Addressing Grief With Bereavement Counselling

If you’re struggling with grief, know that you’re not alone.

Monarch Psychology offers compassionate bereavement counselling to support you through this challenging time.

Reach out today to start your journey toward healing.

Nicole Caines
nicole@monarchpsychology.com