What is Bereavement Counselling?

Bereavement Counselling

Bereavement Counselling can be very helpful when grieving or coming to terms with the death of a loved one. The experience of grief or bereavement is one that no one wants to face, but it will impact us at some point in our lifetime. Seeing a bereavement counsellor may help to lessen the emotional impact, especially if the loss is sudden. The process and stages of grief can seem endless and feel incredibly draining. Working through the emotional feelings and processes associated with grief can seem almost impossible, which is where a bereavement counsellor can help.

Managing Feelings Following a Loss

Feelings following a loss can be extremely overwhelming and affect our ability to continue our everyday lives, such as going to work, socialising, or getting out of bed. There are some techniques that bereavement counsellors can use with clients to help them manage their feelings after a death.

The stages of grief

Originally proposed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, these are:

  1. Denial: In this stage, the individual may deny or minimize the reality of the situation, often as a way of coping with the overwhelming emotions.
  2. Anger: Anger is a normal and healthy emotion that can arise when a person is grieving. The individual may be angry at themselves, others, or even the person who has died.
  3. Bargaining: In this stage, the individual may try negotiating with a higher power or themselves to change the situation or alleviate the pain.
  4. Depression: In this stage, the individual may feel deep sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness. This is a normal and necessary stage of grieving, but it is important to seek help if the depression becomes severe or persistent.
  5. Acceptance: In this final stage, the individual comes to terms with the reality of the situation and begins to move forward with their life. Acceptance does not mean that the person is “over” the loss, but rather that they have found a way to live with it and continue.

It is important to note that not everyone experiences these stages in the same order or with the same intensity, and some may not experience all of these stages at all. Grieving is a highly personal and individual process, and everyone’s journey is unique.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Some other helpful techniques can be very effective and, in some cases, can help clients to better deal with the bereavement, as well as assist them in building an emotional support network. Therefore, bereavement counsellors are often very useful, particularly when a death is expected. Bereavement Counsellors are also helpful in situations where death is unexpected, and the sudden death makes the grief even more intense.

Coping with Bereavement

Bereavement Counselling

Although this is not necessarily the case, some people find it hard to cope with emotions of sadness following a death. In such cases, bereavement counselling might be very beneficial for helping the client cope with the situation. This may include consulting with a therapist, who can give the client useful tips on handling various emotions, such as sadness and grief. Bereavement counselling can also be very helpful for a bereaved person in rebuilding their life following a death.

Bereavement Counselling Sessions

Bereavement counselling sessions can be held in person via our London offices or online via zoom. A counselling session can occur as an individual, a couple, or a family. The preferred therapy session is completely your choice and is designed to fit your lifestyle and current circumstances. 

Our therapists are highly qualified, accredited, and experienced professionals who work with a mindful approach to the client’s circumstances. No matter what stage you may be in your grief process, our therapists can help.

Understanding Bereavement: Coping with Loss

Bereavement is a natural response to loss and involves a range of emotions, such as sadness, sorrow, and grief. The experience of losing a loved one can be overwhelming, and people cope with it in different ways. Some find solace in memorializing the deceased through funeral rituals and reflection on shared memories, while others seek comfort through bereavement counselling, therapy, and support. Coping with a loss is a process that requires time and patience, and it’s important to acknowledge the emotions that arise as a normal part of grieving.

Memorializing the Deceased: Legacy and Remembrance

Memorializing the deceased can provide a sense of closure and comfort to those left behind. Creating a legacy through writing, artwork, or other creative mediums can be a way to remember and honour the deceased. Additionally, remembrance rituals such as lighting candles, planting trees, or making charitable donations in the deceased’s name can offer a sense of purpose and meaning in the face of loss.

Moving Forward: Renewal and Transformation

While losing a loved one can be devastating, but also lead to growth and transformation. Coping with bereavement can help individuals develop resilience and new perspectives on life. It’s important to remember that everyone experiences bereavement differently, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. With support and time, individuals can move forward in their grief journey and find renewal and transformation amid loss.

The Importance of Emotional Support and Self-Care

During bereavement, it’s crucial to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Self-care can involve engaging in activities promoting relaxation and stress relief, such as exercise, meditation, or leisure time in nature. Emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist can also help navigate the ups and downs of the grieving process.

Recognizing the Signs of Complicated Grief

While bereavement is a normal response to loss, some individuals may experience complicated grief, a more severe and long-lasting form of grieving that can interfere with daily life. Symptoms of complicated grief may include persistent sadness or guilt, difficulty moving forward, or avoidance of activities or people that remind the individual of the deceased. If these symptoms persist for an extended period, it may be helpful to seek professional support.

Honouring the Unique Grief Experience

Grief is a unique and personal experience, and there is no timeline for healing. It’s important to honour one’s own experience of grief and not compare it to others or societal expectations. Some individuals may experience a wide range of emotions, while others may feel numb or detached. All reactions to loss are valid and normal.

In conclusion, bereavement is a complex and emotional experience that impacts individuals differently. Coping with loss involves acknowledging the arising emotions, seeking emotional support, and engaging in self-care activities. Through therapy, support groups, and other services, individuals can navigate the stages of grief and find renewal and transformation amid loss.

Healing and Support through Therapy and Counselling

Bereavement counselling and therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment for individuals to express their emotions and work through the stages of grief. Therapy sessions can focus on coping mechanisms, stress management techniques, and other supportive strategies to assist individuals in dealing with the intense emotions that often accompany loss.

Losing a loved one is one of the most challenging experiences any individual can face. Grief can manifest in many ways, and navigating through it can be overwhelming. Bereavement counselling is a crucial support system to help individuals through their grief journey. This comprehensive guide will explore the importance of bereavement counselling, how it works, and who can benefit from it.

Understanding Bereavement Counselling

Bereavement counselling is a specialised form of therapy designed to support individuals coping with losing a loved one. It provides a safe and empathetic environment where individuals can express and process their emotions, thoughts, and experiences. Bereavement counsellors are trained professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge to guide individuals through the complex emotions and stages of grief.

The Importance of Bereavement Counselling

Emotional Support

One of the most significant aspects of bereavement counselling is the emotional support it offers. Grieving individuals may experience a wide range of emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt, and even relief. Bereavement counsellors help individuals recognise and validate these feelings, providing a non-judgmental space to express them openly.

Coping Strategies

Bereavement counselling helps individuals develop healthy coping strategies to manage their grief. Counsellors may introduce various techniques, such as mindfulness, journaling, or creative outlets, to help clients process their emotions and adapt to life without their loved one.

Preventing Mental Health Complications

Untreated grief can lead to mental health complications such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Bereavement counselling can help prevent the development of these issues by addressing the emotional impact of loss and helping individuals build resilience.

The Process of Bereavement Counselling


Bereavement counselling typically begins with an assessment to understand the individual’s unique circumstances, the nature of the loss, and any pre-existing mental health conditions. This assessment allows the counsellor to tailor the sessions to the client’s needs.

Establishing a Therapeutic Relationship

The therapeutic relationship between the client and the counsellor is crucial to bereavement counselling. Establishing trust, rapport, and a sense of safety is essential for clients to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings.

Exploring Grief

During bereavement counselling sessions, clients are encouraged to explore their grief by discussing their thoughts, feelings, and memories of their loved ones. This process allows clients to process their emotions, gain insight, and better understand their grief.

Developing Coping Mechanisms

As individuals progress through bereavement counselling, they will learn various coping mechanisms to help them manage their grief. These strategies may include setting realistic expectations, engaging in self-care activities, and seeking support from friends and family.

Closure and Moving Forward

Bereavement counselling aims to help individuals reach a point of acceptance and find a way to move forward with their lives. This process may involve developing new routines, creating meaningful rituals to honour the deceased, and finding ways to maintain a connection with the loved one.

Who Can Benefit from Bereavement Counselling?

Bereavement counselling is beneficial for individuals of all ages and backgrounds struggling with losing a loved one. This support system can be particularly helpful for those who:

  • Have experienced a sudden or traumatic loss
  • Are struggling to cope with emotions?
  • Have a history of mental health issues
  • Lack of a support network of friends and family

How to Access Bereavement Counselling

In the UK, bereavement counselling services are accessible through various avenues. Here are some options for individuals seeking support:

NHS Referrals

The National Health Service (NHS) offers bereavement counselling through Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services. Speak to your GP about your situation, and they can refer you to a local IAPT service for assessment and counselling.

Private Counsellors and Therapists

For those who prefer private counselling, numerous private counsellors and therapists are available. To find a qualified bereavement counsellor in your area, consult the directories of professional organisations such as the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).

Charitable Organisations

Various charitable organisations provide free or low-cost bereavement counselling. Examples include Cruse Bereavement Care, which offers support to individuals of all ages, and Winston’s Wish, specifically focuses on bereaved children and their families.

Online and Telephone Support

Many organisations and therapists offer online or telephone-based counselling services for individuals who may not have access to in-person counselling or prefer remote support. These options can be particularly helpful during limited mobility or social distancing.


Bereavement counselling is a valuable resource for individuals navigating the challenging terrain of grief and loss. Bereavement counsellors can help clients find a way to move forward in the aftermath of a loved one’s passing by providing emotional support, coping strategies, and guidance. Whether accessed through the NHS, private therapists, or charitable organisations, bereavement counselling is an essential support system for those in need.