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What does a Bereavement Counsellor do?

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Zara, Staff Writer

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

The passing of someone so close can leave us with an undeniable feeling of pain. As one of the most subjective emotions the human psyche can go through, everyone’s reaction and processing of death, grief and bereavement are different.

One of the most highly proven methods of helping people going through bereavement is to talk. Although this seems like a simple answer, providing the right space, questions and personality that allows someone to open up can be difficult. Professional bereavement counselling is a great way of beginning the road to healing and can help people process their loss.       

Let’s take a look at the role of a bereavement counsellor, and key stages of the grief process.

What does a Bereavement Counsellor do?

Although many people will process grief on their own or with the help of loved ones around them, it sometimes takes an objective outsider to help talk through the pain, which is why a bereavement counsellor can be so helpful. Drawing on a wealth of experience and professional training, a bereavement counsellor can talk through the entire grieving process with their client. This dialogue can help the client process their loss and come to some sort of closure.

Holding one to one sessions, the bereavement counsellor creates a safe and confidential place where the bereaved can be honest and open about the way they feel. This helps to validate the client’s emotions and understand their pain.  

What are the four stages of bereavement?

The whole grieving process is a unique experience and one that manifests itself in a variety of ways. However, there is a loose structure to grief and it is commonly seen through four stages. For someone to completely heal from the pains of grief and bereavement, it is arguable that they need to pass through all stages of bereavement before they can come to a final mindset of acceptance and peace.

First stage

The first stage of bereavement is one of shock and numbness, a state of mind that helps the mind cope with the initial shock of death and can sometimes cause the bereaved to completely shut down.

Second stage

The second stage is one of anger or deep sadness; usually, this is the first sign of an emotional response to death.

Third stage

The third stage is one of despair and hopelessness and can often result in the bereaved withdrawing from normal life.

Fourth stage

The fourth and final stage is a state of reorganisation and recovery. This final stage is one where intense feelings of sadness and despair are contained and the griever can begin to retain a somewhat more normal way of thinking and living. 

How long does it take to go through the grieving process?

This is a question that doesn’t have one single answer. Above all other human emotions and experiences, grief, and loss manifest themselves in different and often peculiar ways, depending on the individual. The process can take as little as a few weeks, and other times it may last much longer.

The use of bereavement counselling and the simple act of talking through one’s feelings and thoughts has undeniable effects on the timescale of grief. This method of counselling has been shown to reduce the negative effects of grief and loss.

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