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About Bereavement and Therapy

By Caroline Kendal MBACP (Accred)


About Bereavement

Bereavement is one of the most intensely painful processes we go through in life. The idea of losing someone is so unthinkable that when it does happen, we are unprepared for the grief that strikes us. We do not just lose the person physically, but what they meant for us. With the death of another, something within us dies too.
Although there is no one way to experience bereavement, it tends to follow a similar path. At first, we are likely to be numb. This shock is a protection blanket, protecting us from feeling overwhelmed by grief. It feels unreal, as if the deceased is going to reappear any minute. Soon though, the fantasy gives way to the dreaded reality and we begin to experience other feelings. We yearn and search for the dead person and may begin to feel anger. Anger towards doctors, family, ourselves and surprisingly, with the deceased for leaving us. We can feel abandoned and lonely. Nothing could possibly comfort us. There is no solution, only feelings. Other days we almost forget about it or just feel relief, especially if the deceased suffered before dying or if we cared for them for some time. Guilt and regret can also preoccupy us during this period. We question ourselves, our relationship with the deceased and often feel guilt and regret over things we have said or not said, done or not done.
As time passes - and no-one can predict how long that will be - the pain begins to fade and we slowly recover. From missing the familiarity of the past, we move towards the future, gradually accepting the loss and perhaps finding a place within us where the deceased can rest in peace.


Bereavement is a healthy, natural process. However, if we feel we wish to receive outside support, therapy provides us with the space to release our overwhelming feelings of grief without the burden we may feel we are placing on others. It also offers us the freedom to talk about the wide range of feelings we are experiencing, including sadness, anger, guilt, and regret as well as conflicts we might have had with the deceased. Bereavement can also trigger pain from previous losses and therapy can be a good place to explore and understand what we are going through.

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Issue area(s): Bereavement
Therapy Type(s): Counselling, Psychotherapy