Losing a loved one is never easy, and when the loss occurs in uncommon circumstances, such as suicide, accident, or natural disaster, coming to terms with it becomes all the more difficult. At this challenging time in your life, you may experience feelings and reactions that are new, scary, confusing, and even crippling. From sadness and guilt to anger and insomnia, the spectrum of physical and emotional reactions we go through when mourning can be incredibly complicated and unique. If grieving becomes too hard, and you simply cannot envision how you could ever turn back to normal life, know that you are not alone. A professional bereavement therapist can help you make sense of all the feelings you’re going through, reclaim control of your life, and cope with the loss in a healthy way.
When to seek help from a bereavement therapist
As mental health is starting to get more awareness, we’re slowly dispelling the myth that a person should only seek help from a bereavement therapist when they’ve become utterly dysfunctional. In reality, you can turn to a bereavement therapist for many reasons and in no way should you expect to reach a breaking point to get help:
- You have no friends or family to help you cope with the loss, and you feel alone
- You had a complicated relationship with your loved one, didn’t manage to say goodbye, and you feel like you had many unresolved issues
- You are experiencing intense emotions (anxiety, depression, anger, thoughts of self-harm)
- You’re having trouble sleeping, eating, focusing, and feel disconnected from everyone around you
- Your loved ones feel concerned about your health and have recommended you to seek help
- You can’t make sense of your feelings for your loved one
- You’ve developed or are worried about developing unhealthy coping mechanisms
Things to consider when looking for a bereavement therapist
Once you’ve decided that you want to seek professional help from a bereavement therapist, you’ve already taken an important step towards what we call acceptance. Now, the question is, how can you find the best bereavement therapist for your case?
Remember, we all grieve in our unique ways, and it’s important to find someone in front of whom you can feel comfortable to express your raw feelings.
The first and most important criteria, expertise, is non-negotiable. Regardless of your personal preferences, first, you’ll need to check that your therapist is fully licensed and has all the necessary training in mental health counselling. After you’ve checked local reviews and directories, you can work your way through these questions to get a better idea of who might be right for you:
- Are you more comfortable talking to a male or female bereavement therapist?
- Do you want to go to individual therapy sessions, have your family join you, or take group therapy sessions?
- Do you feel like you just need someone to talk to, or are you looking for someone who will make you follow concrete actions?
- Would you feel more comfortable talking to someone your age or cultural background?
- If you saw other therapists in the past, what did you like and didn’t like about them?
- Is insurance coverage a concern to you?
No matter what your needs are, remember that it’s important to be honest and open up to your therapist because this is the only way you can learn to process your feelings. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find the right bereavement therapist on the first try. If you don’t feel any progress after several sessions and their approach makes you very uncomfortable, you may be able to refer you to someone else.