Learning To Health With Loss and Grief Counselling

Loss and Grief Counselling provides a supportive and structured environment where individuals can process their grief and learn to navigate life after loss.

Everyone will experience loss at some point, whether it’s the death of a loved one, the end of a significant relationship, or another form of personal tragedy.

Coping with loss is deeply personal, and everyone’s journey through grief is unique.

The Grief Process

Grief is a complex, multi-faceted response to loss that encompasses a range of emotions, from deep sadness to anger, and can also impact physical health.

It typically involves several stages, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first proposed these stages in her 1969 book, “On Death and Dying.”

It is important to note that not everyone will experience all stages, and they may not occur linearly.

1. Denial

Nature of Denial Denial serves as a shock absorber for the initial blow of loss, providing emotional protection from being overwhelmed immediately. This stage is characterized by disbelief and numbness, helping individuals to pace their feelings of grief.


  • Avoidance: Ignoring the reality of the loss, acting as if nothing has happened or everything is fine.
  • Confusion: Feeling lost, unsure, or bewildered about one’s role in life without the deceased.
  • Elation: A temporary sense of relief or calm, often followed by guilt for feeling this way.

Therapeutic Response In counselling, the focus during the denial phase is on gently helping individuals acknowledge the reality of their loss at their own pace. Techniques such as gentle questioning and encouraging the expression of any thoughts and feelings related to the deceased can be beneficial.

2. Anger

Characteristics of Anger Anger can manifest in various forms, ranging from resentment and irritation to intense rage. The grief-stricken may direct their anger at inanimate objects, strangers, friends, or family. Anger might be directed at the deceased for “leaving them behind” or at themselves for not preventing the death.

Expression and Management

  • Expression: It is crucial to encourage the expression of this anger in safe, controlled environments. This might be through dialogue, art, or physical activity.
  • Validation: Validating that anger is a normal response and discussing its roots can help diffuse its intensity.

Role of Counseling Counselors use techniques like role-playing or writing letters to the deceased to help channel anger productively.

3. Bargaining

Understanding Bargaining Bargaining often occurs before and after a loss. It represents an attempt to regain control or postpone the inevitable. Common thoughts include “If only…” statements and bargaining with fate, God, or the universe in hopes of a different outcome.

Common Behaviors

  • Negotiation: Making promises or deals in exchange for the reversal or mitigation of the loss.
  • Guilt: Revisiting past actions and imagining alternative scenarios with different outcomes.

Counselling Strategies Focus on helping individuals recognize the irrational nature of bargaining and guiding them toward reality-based solutions to manage their emotions.

4. Depression

Depth of Depression As the finality of the loss takes hold, profound sadness and depression may set in. This is not a sign of psychiatric illness but a normal response to loss. Symptoms might include crying spells, sleep issues, and a diminished interest in life.

Approaches in Therapy

  • Supportive Therapy: Providing a safe place to express these feelings without judgment.
  • Cognitive Approaches: Addressing any pervasive negative thoughts to help prevent a spiral into a more profound depression.

5. Acceptance

Reaching Acceptance Acceptance does not imply happiness but rather a psychological adjustment to the reality of the loss. The person acknowledges the reality of their loss and has begun to adjust to life without their loved one.

Characteristics and Support

  • Re-engagement: Individuals might begin planning for the future or engaging in previously enjoyable activities.
  • New Routines: Establishing new routines is vital to this stage, as it helps to affirm life moving forward.

5 Tips For Managing Grief

Grief Counselling Techniques During Loss

Handling grief is a deeply personal process, but some general strategies can help manage the pain and confusion that come with it. Here are five tips for handling grief:

  1. Allow Yourself to Feel: Grief encompasses a wide range of emotions, from sadness and anger to relief and confusion. Allow yourself to feel these emotions without judgment. Suppressing your feelings can delay the healing process.
  2. Establish a Routine: Maintaining a daily routine can provide a sense of normalcy and structure when everything seems uncertain. Simple activities like waking up regularly, eating meals, and setting small, manageable daily goals can help.
  3. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to contact friends, family, or support groups. Sharing your feelings with others can provide comfort and reduce feelings of isolation. Professional help from a counsellor or therapist specialising in grief can also be invaluable.
  4. Take Care of Your Physical Health: Grief can affect your physical health. Try to maintain regular physical activity, eat nutritious meals, and get enough sleep. Physical well-being can significantly affect emotional health, making it slightly easier to cope with emotional stress.
  5. Create a Tribute: Honoring the memory of the loved one you lost can be a therapeutic part of the grieving process. This might involve creating a photo album, planting a garden, or participating in a charity run in their memory. Such activities can provide a sense of purpose and relief.

Each person’s grief journey is unique; what works for one person may not work for another.

It’s essential to find what best helps you cope and to allow yourself the time you need to heal.

The Role of a Counselor

Counsellors play a crucial role in healing by providing a safe, confidential, and non-judgmental environment where individuals can express their feelings and thoughts.

They facilitate various therapeutic exercises that help individuals process their grief and find a new sense of normalcy.

Counselling for loss also offers practical advice on coping strategies and helps plan for future steps in life without the deceased.

Coping Strategies

Seeking Support in Times of Grief

Counsellors often suggest several coping strategies to help manage grief:

  • Expressing Emotions: Regularly expressing emotions, whether through talking, writing, or art, can provide a therapeutic outlet.
  • Physical Activity: Engaging in physical activities can improve mood and health.
  • Setting Routine: Establishing a daily routine can provide a sense of structure and normalcy.
  • Seeking Support: Connecting with friends, family, or support groups can provide emotional support and reduce feelings of loneliness.

Conclusion: Seeking Support in Times of Grief

The journey through grief is a profoundly personal experience that varies widely from one person to another.

Counselling for loss and death can provide essential support during this challenging time.

By exploring various therapeutic approaches and coping strategies, individuals can find ways to process their grief and gradually begin to look forward to the future with renewed hope and resilience.

Grieving is a deeply personal process that varies significantly from person to person. Understanding the stages of grief can help in recognizing the emotions and reactions that come with loss. However, navigating through these stages alone can be overwhelming. Seeking professional support is a beneficial step towards healing.

Lee Calleja of Chirn Park Health Group offers compassionate counselling for those dealing with loss and grief on the Gold Coast. Whether at the beginning of your grieving process or somewhere in the middle, professional guidance can help you understand and manage your emotions effectively.

Online counselling appointments are also available, providing flexibility and accessibility to those who may prefer or require remote support.

If you or someone you know is struggling with grief, consider reaching out to Lee Calleja. Taking the step to engage with counselling can make a significant difference in your journey through grief, providing you with the tools and support necessary to move forward.

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