unsure about bereavement counselling


I lost my mum in may from breast cancer. Her death was very traumatic, sudden and brutal for me. I immediately wanted to get into counselling/therapy as I thought it would really help me through everything. I self referred myself to the free nhs service as I’m a 20 year old student and can’t really afford to pay for therapy. However a local clinic near me offered a reduced price and I have been seeing one of the counsellors there since may and she has been absolutely invaluable to me and helped me so much with even more issues than my bereavement. I was grateful because the nhs service had a very long waiting list and I needed treatment as soon as possible.

Cut to now and the nhs has just got back to me 4 months later. They’re offering me phone call sessions from St Christopher’s hospice which is where mum spent her final days. At first I was reluctant because I have actually been doing okay or as okay as you can be without mum now, I’ve been thinking more positively and have not been as low as I thought I would be. But I also didn’t want to turn down any support because I’m constantly thinking of the ‘what ifs’ like what if a month from now it all hits me and I crumble and then I would have turned down this support so I kind of just went along with it. Now they’re waiting for me to set up dates for sessions and I can’t bring myself to do it.

Now I have become a university student too and am quite busy with my studies. I really enjoy my course and have a much more positive outlook now. I’m scared that if I start a new strand of bereavement counselling specifically about mum that it will bring back a lot of sadness and trauma. But as I said I don’t want to turn down support in case one day I need it and have to go on another waiting list.

It’s the same with my private therapist, who has said I have greatly progressed and I am considering stopping going to sessions as I am doing well and it’s is still adding up money wise, but again I’m too scared to let go of the support in case I need it.

Should I just take the risk and stop therapy all together? or should I just go along with it/keep going even though I’m worried it will bring back awful thoughts and sadness at a time when I would love to focus on my studies. I feel bad for setting it all up just to bail now just as it’s about to start.

Any comments are greatly appreciated if you feel you have advice or even if you just read this, thank you.

Hi chasingalaxies,

You have done so well in how you have looked for and found yourself the support that you needed in those first few months after the loss of your mum. That was a very brave thing to do, and it sounds like your private counselor has really helped you. Have you talked with her about how you are in two minds about having further sessions with her and/or accepting the ones the NHS has offered? I would think she would be in a good position to advice you as she has come to know you well. It would probably also be helpful to find out how easy it would be to return to her if you stopped now, and to find out from the hiospice if you can postpone the NHS sessions and for how long. I am sure they woud understand if yoe explained your situation. My son is 20 and at uni, so I know how busy this first trimester can be, but maybe you could arrange to have some sessions in December, as the first Christmas after losing a loved one can be a difficult time.
I am glad to read that you are able to enjoy your studies. I am sure your mum would be very proud of you.

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Hi Jo64 - thank you so much for your words and your advice. I think it would be good to talk to my private therapist about the other counselling, like you said she’s come to know me and I’d like her opinion even from a professional point of view whether she thinks I would be okay without the counselling. I will ask her about how easy it will be to come back and also speak to the nhs about postponing because you’re right about Christmas, I haven’t given it much thought but I think it will be a difficult time especially as it was mums favourite time of year. I never thought about postponing so thank you for that.
I’m so glad I decided to come on here because even this amount of reassurance and advice from you has gone a long way so thank you for helping me, suddenly it doesn’t all feel so confusing.

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Hi chasingalaxies

I come with a different viewpoint and one which seems to differ from most on this site. Admittedly i didnt have Sue Ryder counselling but I had private counselling like you.

I personally hated bereavement counselling after losing my mum suddenly 2 years ago. I sat and cried for an hour each week to a stranger and at the end of the 6 weeks they hadnt brought my mum back, which was the only think that would have made it all better.

Two years on and I have survived by keeping busy, working, looking after my teenage daughter and making new memories for the two of us,running a house and just living day to day.

You will never get over losing your mum. I was 48 when I lost mine,but I lost my dad suddenly when I was 27 and he was 53 so i have lost a parent at a similar age.

I think it sounds like you are doing really well and see how you get on without the counselling.

Well done for getting this far. Losing a mum is so so hard.


Hi Cheryl,

Thank you so much for sharing your point of view and your experience. I’m so very sorry about your mum and your dad. You’re amazing for continuing to go on and raise your daughter through it all, I’m sure they would be so proud of you.

It’s a weird thing because my private therapy sessions have been really helpful and comfortable for me but I think that has a lot to do with my therapist as I know it can be difficult to find one that you feel responds well and that you ‘click with’ so I feel very fortunate in that respect. Saying that I know that that can have nothing to do with it and therapy in general is not for everybody.
I am dreading the thought of those bereavement counselling sessions in all honesty and I think that’s because they’re specifically based around bereavement. In my private sessions I can voice anything as well as grief but similar to how you described I feel like I might not like the bereavement sessions as I’ll just be focusing on losing mum, talking about her so much and still not getting her back, just making the void feel wider.
I’m so glad you shared your experience because it makes me feel okay with how I’m feeling when it comes to therapy. I hope you are doing okay despite everything, again it’s amazing that you are still going and living and shows how strong you are.

I’m glad I’ve helped you…there are no right or wrongs with this and we each have a different journey x