As we know, grief affects everyone in very different ways and is famously unpredictable in how and when it rears its head.
According to renowned author and grief expert Dr Bill Webster: “Grief is a normal reaction to what is always an unwelcome event.”
As normal as grief is, we sometimes need a little bit of extra help to process our feelings in order to move forwards with our lives.
Reaching out for grief counselling can be a tough decision to make, especially if you feel like you’re the only one that is struggling with the loss, but it can really help to validate your feelings and see a clearer way forward.
Here are some of the signs that it may be time to reach out for support:
Feeling stuck in your grief.
Whilst there isn’t a timescale on grief, how you feel does tend to change over time. If, after a few months, you still feel exactly the same as you did at the time of the loss, or you seem to have been sitting with the same feelings for a few months without change, it may be a sign that you need a little bit of extra help to start working through that aspect of your grief. Therapy sessions can help make the loss feel more real in the early days, and help to work though sticking points that crop up further along.
Difficulty moving past anger and guilt.
Anger and guilt are very common emotions when someone we love dies, and can occur for various reasons and may not even be logical. However, even if you know the feelings are illogical, it doesn’t make them feel any less real. Often, there are very good reasons to feel angry, perhaps you feel you’ve been let down in some way, perhaps it all just doesn’t seem fair. Similarly with guilt, in hindsight there may well be things we could have done or said, or wouldn’t have done or said if, we knew then what we know now. Such emotions are not necessarily ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ to experience, but if you are finding them hard to move past, or that they are becoming all consuming, it can help to break them down and examine them with a therapist.
Difficulty investing in your life again.
One of the biggest challenges we have when someone we love dies, is rebuilding our lives without them in it. This can be difficult for many reasons, including feeling guilty for starting to look beyond your grief, or not knowing where to start in what feels like a hopeless situation. Sometimes we can confuse the thought of moving forward for moving on and forgetting them. You’ll never forget your loved one, they were far too important, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a full life in their absence. We tend to lose a lot of our confidence when someone we love dies, the world feels less safe and predictable than it used to, this can be another barrier to people picking themselves up and forging their new lives. Counselling can help you find the confidence and direction to take the first steps at your own pace, it doesn’t need to all be done at once.
Having thoughts about hurting yourself.
It isn’t uncommon after a loss to feel like life isn’t worthwhile without that person in it, it can be hard to see the point of carrying on at times. However, having thoughts about hurting yourself is a strong signal that your current methods of coping are not working well enough. Please take such thoughts seriously and reach out for help from a professional counsellor, who will not judge or scold you for the feelings, but help you to offload the overwhelming emotions and find new, more effective methods of coping.
If you are finding it hard to function and be present in day-to-day life.
When we’re bereaved, it’s common to carry around a level of ‘brain fog’ for many weeks, even months, afterwards. It makes it hard to concentrate and remember things, however important they may be. It can also be difficult to feel present in day to day life, rather it feels like you’re floating through a bad dream world, or can leave you exhausted, making you unable to give those around you the attention they need. If your grief is impacting your work, health or other relationships in a negative way, it is important to seek help to work through your feelings. Counselling can help you release emotions and find practical solutions to the problems you are facing, rather than them taking over your life.
If you find yourself too busy to process the loss.
People are often too busy to process their loss. As a direct result of the death, you may find yourself with more to do, such as taking care of others also grieving the person, increased childcare responsibilities or organising your loved one’s affairs. It may also be that you are keeping busy to avoid dealing with your emotions. This is extremely common as it’s natural to avoid something you know will cause you pain. Unfortunately, grief doesn’t just go away and it does need to be worked through in order for it to hold less power over you. It’s also important to take care of yourself so that you’re able to continue taking care of those around you. Counselling can help you find an hour a week in your busy schedule to park everything else and have time just for you and your feelings.
Whatever your reason for seeking a bereavement counselling, it is important to find the right therapist for you. You’re trusting them with one of the most painful experiences of your life, so it’s very important that you ‘click’ and feel comfortable with them. Do not be afraid to get it touch with more than one and have a verbal conversation with them to see if you think they’re a good fit for you.
For more information on Dandelions Bereavement Counselling please click here.