Loss and Bereavement

In the course of a lifetime we face loss on a regular basis and we experience differing degrees of  difficulty or grief as a response depending on the type of loss. Bereavement is the most easily identified form of loss - when a loved one or acquaintance dies a complex set of emotions can arise, ranging from anger to sadness and more besides. But there are many other types of loss that can affect us, some more than others - jobs, relationships, health, to name but a few.

I can't think straight, I keep bursting into tears, is this normal?

There is no one single reaction to bereavement or loss. Whatever you are feeling is normal and it is common to feel sad, angry, numb, detatched, hurt or any combination of these.  It may take a while for these feelings to subside but if they continue in a way that prevents you from living your life and attending to your daily needs it might be time to seek support.

I have vivid dreams about the person I have lost and sometimes think I hear their voice or see them in a crowd ... am I going mad?

This is also a feature of bereavement or loss in early stages and will subside as you begin to adjust to the loss. But if it begins to interfere with your everyday living and intrudes in a way that prevents you taking care of yourself on a day to day level then you may need support in coming to terms with your loss.

I keep going over and over what has happened, I feel so guilty and feel sure there is something I could have done to prevent it ... what can I do to move on?

Talking it out with someone who can be objective and assist you in evaluating your role helps. Writing your thoughts about things down in a journal will give you some relief and let you get clearer so that you can put events into perspective.  These thoughts and feelings will subside as you re-engage in regular activities but if they persist and stop you returning to normal routines, then it may be time to find professional support. 

How does counselling help?

Loss inevitably creates change and in addition to feelings of loss and bereavement you may experience anxiety about the future or struggle to adapt to the changes that have already taken place. Counselling offers time to explore and express the emotional impact we have experienced. It also gives an opportunity to reflect and adjust to what has changed, integrating the experience and moving forward with insight, understanding and positive outlook for the future.