Has anyone found Bereavement Counselling really helpful? I went to my first one last week at local hospice. Had to go through whole story of the awful last weeks of my husband’s life and after that I felt so drained I couldn’t think of anything else to say. The counsellor started talking about how I must think “Why” and I don’t really, I just am having trouble with all the pictures in my head of him suffering. I left the session early as there was such a long silence and I felt uncomfortable. I have an appointment for next Wednesday but I really not sure what I will say or expect.
Any advice?

Hi, I have had a counselling assessment with head bod, and two sessions with my allocated counsellor. This was also at my local hospice. The first session with the head lady was a hell of a thing. I went completely to pieces and was in such a state when all sorts of stuff came out of my mouth that had been building up and in the end I was almost physically sick. I can’t even remember now what was said but it all started with her asking me what had happened. It was supposed to be a fifty minute session but it was about one and a quarter hours before I could leave.
After the session I felt so exhausted I could not function for the rest of the day.
I was very lucky that the lady was extremely good and there were no long silences or any awkwardness.
My allocated lady had it easy compared with my first week! She wanted our story and I went over it again, this obviously has the effect of making stuff come out that you need to speak about. The whole reason it works is that they get you to say out loud things you’ve been keeping in. This done in a safe environment is the way it’s supposed to help. Afterward I felt better and it was not so traumatic and exhausting.

You may have not had a very good first session and indeed the counsellor may not be the one for you but I would definitely say that the idea of counselling and my experience of it has been hugely helpful and important to my sanity. My hospice said that if I didn’t get along with the counsellor that I had that they would find someone else who I had a rapport with so maybe you may have the same option.
Keep trying for now, or maybe try the service they offer on here?
Very best wishes for you, x

I have had a letter this week from the hospice offering me counselling but not sure if one to one or group. Might give them a call and see what it’s all about. My friend went to counselling though and ended up having a breakdown because memories were forced out of her that she wasn’t ready for. Couldn’t cope at that stage. I’m not really the counselling sort (if there is a sort). Might be interesting though. A pity there isn’t just walk in centres, no appointments where you can see a friendly understanding face and a cup of tea and then talk in own time with like minded people.

I’d put myself in the same place as Pattidot, i.e. “not really the counselling sort.”

My grief, in fact all of my emotions, are private. That isn’t to say that I keep them completely bottled up - I wouldn’t post on this forum if that were the case - but I want to control what, with whom, and the extent to which, I share them.
I am happy with people asking how I am, either acquaintances or strangers who become aware of my condition, and I am tolerant of any clichés, bad advice, reticence, embarrassment or discomfort on their part, for I know they mean well.
However, the thought of somebody probing my thoughts, because he/she is paid to do it, and has “done the course,” and is attuned and in thrall to current theories about bereavement management repels me. This would particularly be the case if it were apparent that the counsellor had no personal experience of this sort of bereavement.
Counselling obviously works for some people, and for them I am glad, but it isn’t a universal panacea from which everybody must benefit.
I suppose that the obvious observation here will be that I have taken a position on something that I haven’t tried. I’m not a pedant - I see that argument and accept its validity.

For me I’m confident that counsellors have an important role to play, and that is as enablers or facilitators of a process.
Much depends on the needs of the individual but where someone has particular issues that they can’t work out to resolution then just by the use of open ended and naive questioning it can help the client to clarify their thinking and open particular doors. It helps greatly if the client has a good idea what they want from the process.
It’s unlikely that I will go down the counselling route as I don’t feel I have any unresolved issues but I have thought about it and then ruled things out. Maybe I just feel I have the capability to think things through in my own way, or, more likely, I’m just fortunate that there aren’t any unresolved issues and that my grief isn’t complicated.
One thing I have valued is a phone call from a member of Bereavement Support at Sue Ryder Hospice and that happens approximately every six weeks. It’s just in the way of conversation, I talk, she listens and prompts. In structure it’s a bit like counselling and the woman I talk to is very skilled at what she does. I would be surprised if she doesn’t engage in counselling as well. She is very encouraging and I always feel better for it. That’s probably because it’s not comparable to how I engage with family and friends. I suspect I would see similar value in talking to a counsellor, a pleasant antidote to loneliness and lack of meaningful conversation.

Thank you all for your thoughts. I will go again this week but I have a feeling that that will be all.
Your point, Yorkshire Lad, about knowing what you want from the process is what I have been pondering ever since counselling was first mentioned to me. The answer is that I really don’t know!
My husband was ill for about 6 week but initially refused to go to doctors so after three awful weeks of being so frightened as to what was the matter with him, he collapsed and the diagnosis in the hospital was Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and he died three and a half weeks later.
So I think I am still in shock 11 weeks later and not sure any counselling can help that.
Thank you for listening

I suspect the majority of people that are referred for counselling have no clear understanding of what they want or what potential it may have. Maybe for a lot of people it’s too early.
It’s difficult to work out if it’s been useful if you have no expectations in the first place and for many it may be little more than a nice chat with an active listener. That might be very useful in itself.
Years ago I did a counselling skills course and that was to help me in my working environment related to learning objectives and outcomes. I wouldn’t pretend to have any skill that would be useful in a bereavement situation but it concerns me that large parts of the “counselling” industry are unregulated and that there may be others offer services that have little more of a skill set than me. There seems to be counselling for everything nowadays. People in shock and newly bereaved are likely to be more vulnerable to exploitation. I think if it’s been arranged by a credible body then there are less concerns. Maybe you could ask the counsellor how he/she thinks you could be helped and how they would ensure it was making a difference. It’s worth giving it some thought.

My counsellor is accredited with national organisation and works for local hospice, so I do know she is experienced.
Thank you for your thoughts, Yorkshire Lad, I will ponder some more.

Experienced in counselling, be that as it may.
For the avoidance of doubt, I meant personal experience of being bereaved.

It is said repeatedly on this forum, if you haven’t been through it yourself, you cannot possibly know. That’s why the contributions on here, in all their tragic variety, with all the differences of emphasis, are so valuable.

Understand what you mean Edwin but obviously I have no idea of her personal background.
I would really like to find it helpful but wishing doesn’t make it so.

If you haven’t been through this horrendous experience how can you counsel someone who is going through it.
That was my first thought, then,… everyone probably has bad or traumatic experiences at some time in their lives. It might not be the death of a partner but there are any number of other horrendous experiences.
If someone has empathy and an ability to listen surely that can help some who may be unable to talk to close family or friends.

To be honest I have no idea what I would expect from seeing a counsellor. How can they take away the pain of loss and what’s going on inside me. I think I would rather sort myself out in my own time. I know very well what’s wrong with me and I have to find a way of coming to terms with it. Having one of those days when I’ve stepped backwards so feeling rather grumpy, sorry.

Thanks to everybody for your thoughts. I had my second session of counselling yesterday and it was ok, no silences. But I have given it a lot of thought and decided that at the moment counselling isn’t for me. I may change my mind at some point, I don’t know.
It was twelve weeks since my husband died and I know it’s early days and that I need to cry every day and will do for some time or indefinitely. There’s just no way of knowing and I have to somehow just accept that.
After 53 years together and the shock of him dying so traumatically within a few weeks of diagnosis I must expect to feel awful.

You are dealing with such a great loss and will know when the time is right for you, or even what is right for you no one else.
I am throwing myself into things, it’s only been five weeks since the death of my wonderful partner but I know he would tell me off if I didn’t carry on as usual.
It’s hard and yes there are tears at home in the evening when without thinking I go to speak to him and realise he’s no longer with me but I am determined not to let him down.
Life will never ever be the same but different as time goes on.
I just make sure I have a list of projects to keep me busy, from redecorating to upholstering a chair.
Though I think people might think I’m mad as I ask him what he thinks about something or tell him how he’s left me to deal with something he would have done more easily.
Perhaps in a way, as he had dementia, I had already mourned the loss of the capable person he was and so it’s a little easier.
I was already having to do everything as he could no longer do so, I definately became proficient with my handy person skills!

Well done on your projects, 12remember. I am very admiring. My husband was very capable and dealt with all the decorating, plumbing, electrics so I am at a total loss.
As you say although it’s been only 5 weeks you have probably been grieving for longer than that.
I find waking up in the morning probably the worst and rarely start the day without crying. But on we must go I suppose.

Oh 12remember you have managed to make me smile. I too find myself asking my husband if I am doing things right. Electrics fused and I asked him to help me, he did, I sorted it. We have allotments and I have his to do also now. I find myself asking him if I’m doing things as he would want it. I’m building boxes for planting in. They’r a bit crooked (not good with a saw) and not to his standard, but I know he would say. “What do you expect, your only a woman” How he could wind me up when he said that. While clearing out his compost bins a lone Robin landed on the bin and watched me. I convinced myself it was him keeping an eye on me, it then hopped onto the wheelbarrow and still watched me. I’ve been decorating also. Always looking for another project. Being a bit obsessional I know.

We are so lucky in Sour area we have a drop in centre which is open to all those affected by cancer. Although you have to make appointments for formal counselling, there are lots of people to talk to informally.
It is a shame this service isn’t offered in more places

There is no right or wrong way to deal with the loss of a loved one. I lost my wife 6 months ago and since then I have thrown myself into all sorts of projects. However I had left myself time to grieve for my wife. It brought home to me that whilst it is okay to do things to keep me busy, it is important to allow myself time to just be and think about the loss of my wife and process it. I know it will take forever to come to terms with, but by going through this process life will have some meaning again

Meant to say i hadn’t left myself time to grieve

I think I am now going through the anger phase!
Found myself looking at his photo and asking him how he could have left me, he was the practical one before his last stages of dementia and I relied on him.
Told him it wasn’t easy fitting rain deflectors on a hard wood door and when I caught up with him his life wouldn’t be worth living!
Suddenly realised what I’d said!
Don’t really think I need counselling , just take out my anger in talking to his photo and then hopefully make sense of my new life however difficult that may be.