LIVE CHAT - Meet the Counsellors [now ended]

Hello everyone,

Update: Thank you all for participating in this chat - we hope it has been interesting. If you have any more questions, feel free to post it below and we’ll answer as soon as possible.

We also have answers to Frequently Asked Questions here:

And you can register for the service here:

Take care,

Welcome to this live chat! This is the first time we’ve done anything like this here, so we hope you find it helpful.

I’d like to introduce Kevin and Louise, our two bereavement counsellors. Kevin and Louise joined Sue Ryder in April and offer bereavement counselling sessions via video chat. If you’d like to know more about how the service works, there’s some information on this page:

This is an opportunity to learn more about how counselling works. If you’re not sure whether it would suit you personally, you’re more than welcome to book in for an assessment to talk about that further (you’re not then obliged to carry on with sessions if you don’t want to). Please don’t share too many personal details here as this is a public space – I’ll be following our Community Guidelines to moderate this chat, so let’s keep it friendly and useful. If you’re worried about anything, send me a private message and we can talk about it further there.

Over to you: do you have any questions for Kevin and Louise?

If you’d prefer to ask anonymously, please feel free to send me a private message and I’ll post it on your behalf.


Hi Kevin Sue Ryder online bereavement counsellor eventually found my way here!


I’d like to ask how counselling can help me, my partner died very suddenly a few months
ago. I still can’t believe it’s happened.
I am so upset at how it happened (totally unexpected)
When it happened (first real year of our retirement, soon after my mother died)
What happened ( I had no chance to be there or say goodbye)
How can counselling help me?
What can I expect to get from it?

Thank you.

Can I introduce myself my name is Kevin and I am one of Sue Ryders online bereavement counsellors. I have previously been a senior counsellor in the NHS for some 15 years and in this role had substantial experience of counselling clients with bereavement issues.

My Name is Louise I am a Bereavement Counsellor with Sue Ryder, I’m here this evening I’m here with my colleague Kevin to answer any questions you might have about counselling or about how the new online counselling service works. The idea of accessing additional help and support at this stage maybe a bit daunting and we are here to help you decide if it could be right for you. We look forward to hearing from you.

Hi J I have a bit of a long answer to your question see if it helps. It will come as no surprise that I see counselling as one of the supports that bereaved individuals appear to find helpful. Having said that, not everyone needs counselling or will benefit from it, it is really about finding what is right from you.

Perhaps if I explain my notional model of bereavement. The death of someone who is close to us, means that we are going to go on a journey, this journey, sometimes expected, sometimes unexpected is the bereavement process. We cannot avoid this journey as we have been placed on the journey by the loss of the person we are close to. Every bereavement is unique and hence every journey is going to be different. This journey can involve complex route finding as previous losses and bereavements emerge for us and complicate the route. Some people manage to find their way on this journey without professional support. Family, friends, work, community and religion may all be sufficient for the bereaved person to travel on this journey. We now have the Sue Ryder Online Bereavement Community an evolving support community utilising modern technology that hopefully assists people on their journey. For people that want additional support Sue Ryder are piloting counselling as one of the possible ‘additions’.

Like you said J, sadly, no one can bring your partner back, counselling is not going to do this or stop you crying. It is not a panacea, however for some people it is a really useful support on their journey, to help them process their emotions, to help them understand their loss and sometimes to even assist them when they can’t find a way forward because of despair and desolation. Frequently the bereaved person does not want to as they see it to ‘burden’ friends or family and talking to someone they don’t know helps. Whilst we know there are patterns in grieving, it is best not to be prescriptive, as everyone’s journey is different and as a counsellor I am looking for the best way to help each individual on their journey.

I’d like to ask a question, if I may:

If someone was bereaved some time ago, say a few years, can counselling still be helpful? I know that grief can last much longer than we often think, and I wondered if it can still be helpful to have counselling some years down the line.


Hello J, thank you for coming forward with a question.
You were asking ‘what can you expect to get from bereavement counselling’?
What you have described yourself going through is exactly what I’d expect. I’m sure for you it feels unstructured and strange to ‘just cry and talk’ but that is perhaps what you need space to do, the counselling relationship can be the thing that enables you to do release this pain.
Counselling provides clients with a safe space, non judgmental and confidential in which to begin to understand and process you feelings. During the sessions offers clients. By that I mean sometimes it can be difficult to talking to friends, hard to share your feelings with family being with a counsellor can provide a caring companion on the journey through grief, allowing you to perhaps fully experience your emotions. Just as everyone’s journey through grief is different so is their experience of counselling. It depends on lots of factors inc the nature of the death and the relationship of that individual to the bereaved, it can also be influenced by our previous experiences of death and dying.

Bereavement reactions and grief can be locked away for years. Counselling may be a really good way of working through these losses if they are emerging in the present.

Thank you for your answer, I always find this concept of a “journey” very difficult.
To me a “journey” is a pleasurable trip or something from the X factor. Neither of which applies to a bereaved person.
Is counselling simply a release of pressure simply from being able to say what you want to say, things that you can’t say to family or friends?
Is it supposed to help us understand why we feel how we do ?
Is it supposed to tell us what to do next ?

I’m probably not being helpful but it just confuses me. J

People can come to counselling at any time in their life, for lots of people they are simply not ready to share their feelings, perhaps they have have experienced another difficult and stressful situation which has brought old unresolved thoughts about loss to the surface, possibly their source of support. there are lots of reason why you may find yourself unable to cope. I would advise anyone who feels they may still be struggling with their loss, feeling alone or lost in their grief to attend an assessment appointment. Issues can resurface after many years or be triggered by recent event, this can take people by surprise, grief counselling is about exploring all the ways the death of a loved one effects us and it can really help to understand exactly how you may be effected even years after the event…

Hi Jackie this is not an easy journey or a journey that people want to go on. It is often very painful and as counsellors we are often impacted by our clients story. Counselling is very confidential and we aim to provide high levels of respect and compassion to our clients. When you use the term supposed, I think that each client will have their own needs and wants in terms of how they are going to use counselling and what they expect from. Some people may want to just tell their story as it seems to lift them. Others may want to explore issues such as guilt or anger. Generally speaking a counsellor will not be telling their clients what to do next, but what be happy to work with their clients so they can find their own way forward. Hope this helps

That’s really interesting, I struggle with that idea too. Its certainly not a trip anyone would choose to take. A ‘journey’ implies a choice and has the suggestion of adventure. I believe grief feels like something we have to go through, to endure, a process of moving from one point to another, I guess that why the term is used. However for many it feels there is no movement, people can find themselves stagnant, drowning and possibly feeling stuck in grief this is when counselling can help to aid this release you describe enabling a person to keep moving, even slowly.

Yep for some people it is exactly that, a release of pressure, a way to create space, to carry on and to bear the load.

I always hope to explore both those questions with clients if that is of interest to them, it really depends on the type of counsellor and the type of counselling they use.

Would you be able to support someone who has anticipatory grief?

Yes there is no problem with this. It can help individuals adjust and make a good ending with their loved one.

Yes the service can offer support to individuals who are experiencing terminal illness and end of life care or who maybe losing someone in this way, also anyone who may be caring for someone at the end of life, we can offer help via the online counselling service before as well as after their loss.

Thank you Louise, your reply has helped clarify things for me, J

I’m on my own after my husband died 3 months ago. He had cancer and I’ve been having treatment for cancer as well. I’ve good family and friends and yet I still feel alone. My treatment is ok. But still is worrying x

Hello Debonair,

I am so very sorry to hear that your husband died three months ago and that you’re also going through your own treatment for cancer. This is a lot to deal with and must be a very difficult time for you.

I’m glad that you’ve got good family and friends around you, but it’s completely understandable that you’re still feeling alone. There are others here who have experienced a similar loss and many do talk about how they feel alone even with lots of people around them.

I hope you find this community a safe and supportive space to share how you’re feeling. If there’s anything I can do for you, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Take care,

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