What is a bereavement counsellor?

A bereavement counsellor is someone who’s specially trained to help people cope with grief. Bereavement counsellors are sometimes called grief counsellors.

In this article, you’ll learn:

What do bereavement counsellors do?

The role of a bereavement counsellor is to talk to people and ask questions to help them process their grief.

If you see a bereavement counsellor, they’ll encourage you to explore your emotions through conversation. This can help you understand why you’re feeling these emotions and start to find ways to feel better.

This can be difficult at first. You might have to share personal thoughts that you might not be comfortable talking about. But don’t worry – a counselling session is a safe and confidential space. Your counsellor won’t judge you and won’t share anything you say with anybody else.

Bereavement counsellors are trained and qualified to help people with grief, but they’re not allowed to help with other issues. They can’t give advice about money, for instance, or prescribe drugs to help with depression.

How does bereavement counselling help?

Bereavement counselling can be helpful because it gives you a chance to talk about your deepest thoughts and feelings. This includes things you might not want to share with friends and family, such as feelings of guilt or anger.

Talking about these things and getting them out in the open can be an important part of the healing process. Plus, your counsellor can offer practical advice to help you make sense of complex emotions and adjust to how your life has changed.

Do I need bereavement counselling?

Everyone copes with grief differently. Some people can start to feel better with support from friends and family. Others may feel like they need a little extra help from a trained professional.

The important thing to know is this: there are no rules about who can see a bereavement counsellor. So if you think counselling might help you, it might be worth signing up for a session. If you don’t like it, you can stop at any time.

Here are some reasons why people choose grief counselling:

  • They don’t have friends or relatives they can talk to
  • They have feelings that they’re not comfortable talking about with friends
  • They had a complicated relationship with the person who has died
  • They want a safe space to talk about their emotions without fear of judgement
  • They’ve been grieving for a long time and don’t feel any better
  • Their grief stops them from getting on with everyday life

When should bereavement counselling start?

You can see a grief counsellor at any stage in the grieving process.

That said, some bereavement counsellors recommend waiting three to six months before starting. This is because the first stages of grief can feel very raw and emotional. These first emotions often get easier with time. But if you feel like you can’t cope, it’s important you reach out for help as soon as possible.

And it’s never too late to start treatment, either. Some people start counselling sessions years or even decades after a person has died.

Is bereavement counselling free?

You don’t have to pay for bereavement counselling in the UK. There are several charities you can turn to that offer bereavement support for free.

If you prefer, you can pay for private counselling sessions. Sites such as Therapy Panda and Counselling Directory can help you find a private bereavement counsellor near you.

How to get bereavement counselling

If you’re not sure whether you need counselling

Here are some things you can try if you’re not sure whether you’re ready for counselling:

If you’re ready to see a grief counsellor

Here are some charities you can turn to:

Some charities offer specialist support for certain people, such as children, widows or those who have lost someone to cancer. For more information, see our list of bereavement charities in the UK.

If you need immediate help

Do you need to talk to someone now? Call Samaritans on 116 123 or get in touch online. Their helpline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In an emergency, call 999

If you’ve hurt yourself – or you’re worried you might hurt yourself – call 999 straight away.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash