Bereavement and grief counselling

You don't have to deal with grief alone. Get the very best bereavement counselling today at Priory.

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This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Kate Webb, Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Roehampton, in April 2024.

What is bereavement?

Bereavement relates to the period of time after we’ve lost people we love, and describes how we adjust to the significant amount of change that usually follows.

The depth of the bereavement can vary depending on the significance of the relationship between you and the person who has died. You might feel an overwhelming sense of loss as well as emotions such as sadness, guilt, frustration and anxiety, which often follow immediately after the death. This period is often described as ‘being in mourning.’

Depending on your individual circumstances, such as whether the person’s death was sudden or anticipated, your response to grief can affect you in unexpected ways. You might experience feelings of anger or unexpected changes in your mood/temperament, which can affect your view of your own life and those in your life going forward.

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We are currently able to offer fast access to private inpatient treatment at Priory. Please call us today and speak to our expert advisers.

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Bereavement counselling at Priory

Bereavement counselling at Priory can help you to grieve and provide you with the support you need at such a crucial point in your life. Bereavement support is designed to reduce the risks of depression, prolonged grief reactions, anxiety and other associated indicators of complicated grief.

We offer outpatient therapy for bereavement and grief, where you'll attend one of our Priory sites for ongoing therapy sessions, that usually happen on a weekly basis. We also offer inpatient support through our nationwide network of Priory hospitals. During inpatient treatment, you'll have access to psychological group therapy programmes and regular sessions with a specialist consultant. This is often used when you have associated symptoms and illnesses, such as depression, as a result of the bereavement you've gone through.

What's involved in bereavement counselling?

At Priory, we recognise the unique and complex nature of bereavement and its intensely personal nature. Our therapists can provide tailored treatment programmes suitable to your level of need. However, there are some common therapy methods that are used to help you manage your thoughts and feelings. These include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
  • Psychotherapy
  • Mindfulness/meditation
  • Group therapy
  • Online therapy

A mixture of these therapy methods can be used to help you understand grief, reflect on memories, and ease symptoms of anxiety and depression. Therapy also enables you to gain valuable insights, share anecdotes and find coping methods surrounding loss that suit you.

Reasons you might need bereavement counselling

While the death of someone you care for may seem like the obvious cause of bereavement, the type and nature of the death plays an important part in the grieving process and how the event ultimately impacts on your life.

Some of the primary causes of bereavement and intense grief include:

Death of a parent

The loss of our parents is an unfortunate event many of us have to prepare for during our lives. This will be a particularly significant death if you maintained a close attachment with your parent, and can leave you feeling isolated. Close family support is important for helping you cope with this type of bereavement, particularly from siblings going through the same emotional journey.

Death of a child

Outliving your child or experiencing the death of a child can be one of the most painful periods of bereavement. The death of a child or adolescent is unexpected in the natural flow of life. You might experience feelings of hopelessness, anger and sadness at the thought of your child not getting the chance to fulfil their potential and you not being able to watch them grow up. This can, understandably, change your life forever.

Death of a spouse or partner

As we spend so much of our adult lives with our spouse or partner, their loss can make you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself. The support of friends and family is imperative in these circumstances, as they can help to protect you from experiencing complex grief reactions and realise there's still hope for the future.

Death of a sibling

Whether you're a child, adolescent or adult, losing your sibling can be very difficult at any life stage. As you've grown up with your sibling, you may have a very close bond with them. If a child has lost their sibling, it's important to involve them in the grieving process, such as making funeral arrangements, and preparing them for the range of emotions to come.

Death through suicide

Losing someone to suicide is one of the more difficult and complex forms of bereavement you can go through. The common emotions and symptoms felt during the grieving process can be further complicated by feelings of anger and regret. This might be directed either at your loved one for the choice they made, or towards yourself for not fully understanding their state of mind, or feeling as though you could have done more to help them.

The 5 stages of grief

There are five widely recognised stages of grief, although there have been some studies that suggest there may actually be as many as seven.

It's important to understand that these stages aren't sequential. They can occur in any order and people can experience several stages at the same time.

  1. Denial, disbelief, and numbness - initial feelings of shock and disbelief can lead to denial and numbness
  2. Anger or blame - people who are grieving may experience anger or blame, directed at themselves or others
  3. Bargaining - religious people might go through a bargaining stage, making promises or personal sacrifices
  4. Depressed mood and sadness - depression is common in people who are grieving a loved one, and seeking help from therapists is crucial
  5. Acceptance - while not guaranteed, acceptance is the final stage of grief, characterised by a sense of calm and readiness to move forward

Bereavement and grief counselling at Priory is made up of expert bereavement counsellors who can help you with the stages of grief and some of the most difficult experiences you may face. Our team of highly experienced bereavement therapists work with you to understand the nature of your loss and create a therapeutic plan to help you cope with your grief and prepare for the future. Bereavement therapy is about supporting you to come to terms with something you cannot change, and helping you understand how you can continue to take care of yourself and grieve at the same time.

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