Grief and loss counselling – how it helps


Person Suffering from GriefGrief is only a normal and natural emotion that is triggered when we lose someone we love deeply or something that we have been intimately attached to, such as a pet, a car or similar things. There is no way we can predict the duration of grief, and there is nothing like the right way of grieving. The impact of grief or the manner which it finds expression can vary significantly from one individual to the other. Majority of individuals do exhibit great resilience in tiding over such situations and getting life back on the rail so that grief does not become overwhelming. But, in a smaller percentage of people, grief does become overwhelming, and they become physically and mentally drained and quickly move into the depression of varying degrees.

The following are some of the strategies that can be helpful in managing grief

When someone is experiencing a loss, isolation and loneliness are common, and that can be improved by leaning on people around for emotional support. Often, speaking to friends or members of the family, or a psychologist about the loss and finding someone willing to lend you a shoulder to cry on or extend support in other forms has often been found to be helpful in bringing down the intensity of your grief. When you are overwhelmed by grief, taking adequate time for yourself and doing things like a long hot bath or a walk in the open can have a salutary effect on calming down your grief. Taking to drugs or excessive consumption of alcohol should be avoided since they can suppress the feelings or trigger outburst of anger. You can learn to stay with the feelings and deal with them actively than try pushing them away or ignoring them. It is important that you acknowledge the pain that you are suffering, depression or anger, and also acknowledge that it is a passing phase that won’t last forever. You will move on when the grief subsides.

Seek professional assistance

Flower of grief

When grief persists for a longer duration, you may be bogged down by emotions such as depression, anger or disbelief and these feelings may stick with you. You may experience challenges in carrying out your routine tasks, and intrusive thoughts about the cause of grief or a departed soul can become overpowering because you have not fully accepted the loss as yet. Robert Van De Berg, a psychologist at Melbourne’s one of the primary counselling services provider, The Three Seas Psychology Group, says “Counselling helps to maintain workable parenting relationships with each other and families which in turn limits the potential negative impact on individual’s lives.”

If this is happening to you, you should possibly be seeing a professional and talk with him about your experience.

What is grief counselling?

A form of psychotherapy aimed at helping people cope with mourning and grief resulting from the death of a loved one, or with major changes in life that trigger the feeling of grief such as a job loss or divorce. Some of the techniques employed in grief counselling can include and stems from varied theoretical frames.

Professional assistance for grief

Cognitive Restructuring

The basic assumption in cognitive restructuring is that our feelings are influenced by our thoughts and particularly so, the secret self-scripts, that remain constant in our mind. For a grieving person, it is common to experience certain irrational self-scripts such as “I will never be loved by anyone again”, “I am all alone” etc. A grief counsellor can identify these thoughts and challenge the accuracy of those thoughts to help the client in replacing such thoughts with more realistic and functional ones. This technique is considered particularly useful for challenging the feeling of false guilt.


Writing is a medium that can help a grieving survivor to express his/her thoughts and feelings more freely. This free expression constitutes a crucial gesture in the process of recovering from grief. For instance, if the grieving person can write to the deceased, it can address some of the unfinished business between them since it presents an opportunity to express deeds and thoughts that remained unsaid before the loss. The counsellor can also encourage the grieving person to write honest and extensive letters when considered appropriate so that free and authentic expression of feelings and thoughts can be promoted.

Role Play

Role play can be particularly effective in helping the grieving individual adjust to a new environment after suffering the loss of a dear one by extending help to build skills and recognising their ability to bring about new adjustments and get ahead with life normally. The counsellor can involve himself/herself in the role play as a facilitator or model some of the new behaviours for his/her client.

Evocative language

In order to encourage the grieving person come to terms with the loss, the counsellor may opt to use strong words like “your father is dead” then say “you lost your father” and sought to induce relevant feelings so that the client can express and experience painful emotions that are normally felt in the aftermath of a loss. However, this approach can be employed only after developing a healthy rapport with the grieving individual, and enough trust has been developed between the counsellor and the grieving individual. If the counsellor shows haste in employing this approach, the grieving person can potentially see that as insensitive. Thus, timing becomes a crucial factor in applying this technique.

Memory book

Creation of memory book focuses on getting the family and other significant members associated with the deceased to reminisce the sequence of events in the life of the deceased. Stories about important events and memorabilia like poems, photographs, drawing etc. can be included in the book. The idea of a memory book is to throw open an opportunity for members of the family and others closely attached to the deceased to grieve together and lend support to each other. Potentially, such an exercise will help ease painful emotions triggered by the loss. The grieving individual/s also gets an opportunity to give the fullest expression to his/her emotions arising from the loss through the memory book.

Depending on your circumstances, professional grief counsellors can work with you to use any of the above techniques or even employ additional techniques to calm your nerves and help you put your life back on the rail.

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