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Conditions: Grief and Bereavement

What is bereavement?

Bereavement is the experience of losing someone or something that is important to us.

It is characterised by grief, which is the process and the range of emotions we go through as we gradually adjust to the loss. Grief is a universal experience however it can evoke wide range of emotions and affect people in different ways and there is no right or wrong way to feel. Losing someone or something we care about can feel devastating, whether than be a partner, family member, friend, or pet. Grief affects the body in ways you might not expect and lead to changes in appetite, sleep or even cause physical pain. Grieving can leave you feeling confused, afraid, and dislocated from yourself.

Feelings of grief can also happen because of other types of loss or changes in circumstances such as the end of a relationship, moving away to a new location, the loss or change of a job or a decline in the physical or mental health of our own or someone we care about.

There is no time limit on grief, and this can vary from person to person and will depend on many factors such as a type and strength of the attachment we had and circumstances surrounding the loss.


Are your difficulties connected to anything specific?

Anticipatory Grief - Anticipatory grief is a sense of loss that we feel when we are expecting a death. It does not necessarily replace, reduce, or make grief after the loss any easier or shorter, but for some people it can provide the opportunity to prepare for the loss and for what the future might look like.

Secondary Loss - After any loss, you may also feel what is known as “secondary loss”. After the initial shock, you may struggle when thinking of future experiences that those who are gone will not be there to share or see, such as watching your children grow up, meeting partners or attending key life events like weddings.

Disenfranchised Grief - Disenfranchised grief is defined as grief that people experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned or publicly mourned. This can happen for a number of reasons that, for the most, fall into one (or sometimes more) of the following categories:

  • The loss isn’t viewed as worthy of grief (ex. non-death losses and symbolic losses)

  • The relationship is stigmatised (ex. partner in an extramarital affair)

  • The mechanism of death is stigmatised (ex. suicide or overdose death)

  • The person grieving is not recognised as a griever (ex. co-workers or ex-partners)

  • The way someone is grieving is stigmatised. (ex. the absence of an outward grief response or extreme grief responses)

Complicated Grief - For some people, feelings of loss are debilitating and do not seem to improve even after significant amount of time passes. This is known as complicated grief, sometimes called persistent complex bereavement disorder. In complicated grief, painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble recovering from the loss and resuming your own life.

Loss of Pregnancy and Miscarriage - Pregnancy loss may mean you need to take even greater care of yourself for a while. How you feel after your loss will depend on your circumstances, your experience of loss and what the pregnancy meant to you. For some people, pregnancy loss may be part of what causes a mental health problem – or makes one worse. You might be given a diagnosis (like PTSD) or experience symptoms that make life difficult for a long time. Sometimes the trauma of your loss may cause excessive worrying, self-blame, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, or nightmares. Sometimes it’s what happens afterwards that contributes to mental health problems. Lots of people experience a combination of these things however pregnancy loss can make you feel alone in different ways.

When to seek help?

  • You feel you are struggling to cope with the bereavement and finding it hard to adjust to your life after the loss

  • You are experiencing intense sorrow, pain, and rumination over the loss of your loved one

  • You focus on little else but the loss

  • There is extreme focus on reminders of the loved one or excessive avoidance of reminders

  • You experience problems accepting the death and loss

  • You are feeling that life holds no meaning or purpose or is no longer worth living

  • You feel unable to enjoy life

  • You continue to experience depression, guilt and self-blame and believe that you did something wrong or could have prevented the death

  • You continue to have trouble carrying out normal routines

  • You continue to feel numb and detached

  • You lack trust in others

Treatment recommendations

Bereavement counselling is designed to help you cope more effectively or constructively with the loss. Grief counselling can help you explore areas that could potentially prevent you from grieving or ‘moving on’ by helping you resolve areas of conflict that might remain. Bereavement counselling aims to get you to the point where you can function normally – however long it takes.

The selected treatment, however, would be individually tailored to your needs following a comprehensive assessment process in our service, depending on the nature and severity of your difficulty.

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