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Bereavement and Grief: how to cope with your loss.

What is grief? Sounds like a simple enough question doesn't it? And yet when I ask my clients they pause, sometimes unable to answer. I ask this question as although it appears simple, the answer is extremely important.

The answer (and I mean the individuals' true answer and not a dictionary type definition) is really important in the grieving process.

After all how can we grieve if we don't know how to?

What is Grief to you?

The core of my practice is that somewhere deep inside each of us, we have our own truth. I believe it is the client that knows best. I am not the expert in the room- my client is. My role is to walk alongside my clients; facilitating as they reach that truth and begin to own it.

So the next question I ask is: What is grief to YOU? This can be difficult to answer, as society has given us a concept of grief. Perhaps even a stereotype of the grieving person. Perhaps you can ask yourself now what grief means to you? When I did this exercise I realised my initial thoughts were of images of initial loss and death; people wearing black and crying. Once I dug deeper I realised grief was so much more to me. I also realised grief can be present around any ending or loss, not only death. We can also grieve for ourselves, for our losses, and for our childhoods, in particular the ones we may have needed but we're not given.

Bereavement Therapy

As a counsellor I often first meet clients who are in the initial stages of grief. Some individuals reach straight out for Counselling support, other clients come years after the loss in the hope of processing. Sometimes a person comes to therapy with a completely different presenting issue and as we work together we discover that the underlying issue is in fact grief.

Grief Counselling is unique to each individual, though some theory and working in structured ways can be beneficial; for example, the now well known grief cycle can provide a good starting point for exploration.

For me the most important part of grief Counselling is to hold my clients pain- to sit with their feelings, whatever they might be, to acknowledge the loss and to encourage that they grieve in their own way. I encourage the client asks themselves what grief is, and to tune into what that loss feels like for them. Often clients come to me and say they feel guilty as they should be feeling more sadness, or they should be crying more. I ask who says they should? There are no shoulds in grief.

Replace the should- with need.

I do believe that speaking about the loss is extremely beneficial and important. I always aim to support my clients in an empathic and non judgmental way. I do not feel what you feel, but I always try to and to understand as best as I can.

My role is to not simply listen, my role is to hear.

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