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What is bereavement therapy?

Bereavement therapy is a specialised mental health service designed to assist individuals coping with the profound loss of a loved one, particularly through death. In order to comprehend the benefits of this therapeutic approach and determine whether it is appropriate for you or a loved one, it is crucial to explore the intricate nature of the grieving process.

Loss is an inevitable part of life, and when we experience the departure of a dear friend or family member, it can leave us feeling a profound sense of emptiness, despair, and sorrow. While it is commonly recognised that grief is often characterised by five stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), it’s important to note that this classification is not universally applicable. The grieving process is deeply personal and unique to each individual, as it is influenced by various factors such as personality, beliefs, the nature of the relationship with the departed loved one, and the circumstances surrounding their passing.

Bereavement therapy vs bereavement counselling

While “therapy” and “counselling” are often used interchangeably, they have nuanced differences. These distinctions arise from the intensity of the grieving process and one’s ability to cope with the loss. Grief counselling primarily focuses on assisting individuals with mild grieving symptoms to better manage their emotions. On the other hand, grief therapy is intended for more complex cases characterised by intense and prolonged grief patterns that hinder normal functioning. For instance, bereavement therapy is recommended when experiencing:

While these symptoms may occur in various circumstances, bereavement therapy is typically advised when the loss is particularly unexpected (such as suicide, natural disaster, or terrorist attack) or when complex unresolved matters are present due to a complicated relationship. Additionally, bereavement therapy can offer support to individuals who lack a strong network of friends and family during the grieving process.

What will my therapy consist of?

The experience of losing a loved one can be incredibly overwhelming, and if you or someone you know is struggling to resume a normal life, therapy can be a transformative resource. Contrary to common misconceptions, therapy does not aim to dismiss the loss as if it never occurred. Rather, its purpose is to help individuals come to terms with the loss, comprehend their emotional responses, and develop healthy coping strategies. The therapist may employ medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both, always with a focus on the unique nature of the grieving process. Through therapy, you can regain a sense of self and find joy in personal and professional pursuits while simultaneously honouring the significance your loved one held in your life.

5 stages of grief


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