Questionnaire: do i need grief counseling?
In the aftermath of a death it is perfectly normal to cycle through many different emotions. Feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, denial, guilt and even relief can all be typical of those who are grieving. Even when people know this, however, there are those who will not recognise when their emotions are making a major impact on their lives. Bereavement advice and counselling can help people work through their grief, resolve any lingering conflicts and come to terms with their new lives and selves.
To help you determine if you need bereavement counselling we have put together the following questionnaire. Answer each of the 12 questions below with yes or no . Total your answers and match the number of yes answers to the explanations at the end to find out if you need bereavement counselling.
1. Have your sleeping patterns changed considerably since the death of your loved one?
2. Has your weight changed considerably since the death of your loved one?
3. Have you experienced great or regular confusion since the death of your loved one?
4. Have you been unable to stop crying since the death of your loved one?
5. Have you been unable to concentrate since the death of your loved one?
6. Have others told you that you are not coping well since the death of your loved one?
7. Have you had suicidal thoughts since the death of your loved one?
8. Have you thought of harming yourself or others since the death of your loved one?
9. Have you been unable to make decisions since the death of your loved one?
10. Have you felt uncontrollable rage since the death of your loved one?
11. Have you experienced physical pain since the death of your loved one?
12. Have you worried about your thoughts or behaviour since the death of your loved one?
Do You Need Bereavement Counselling?
If you answered yes to between one and four questions then you most likely do not need bereavement counselling. It seems as though you have acknowledged your thoughts and feelings about the death of your loved one, and that you are working through them in healthy ways. If you don t agree, however, or you feel that you would still like the support of others or the chance to speak with someone non-judgemental, then you might want to investigate individual or group bereavement counselling anyway. If you’ve ever had suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself or others as related to your grief then you should seek professional help immediately.
Yes to 5 -8
If you answered yes to between five and eight questions then you might need bereavement counselling. It is very easy for grief to spiral out of control or take over your life. It’s important to understand how grief can affect your relationships and bereavement counselling could help you better understand your emotions and what you can do to work through them and eventually overcome them. Bereavement counselling can also be a great, safe place for you to discuss your loved one, his or her death, the role (s)he played in your life and how you would like your life to take shape in the future – both the positive and negative aspects of all. It may not seem like your life has been impacted greatly yet, but attending bereavement counselling could keep it from being impacted irreversibly in the future. Please seek help immediately if you feel that you are a danger to yourself or others.
Yes to 9 or more
If you answered yes to nine or more questions then you most likely need bereavement counselling. You have obviously experienced great changes in your life due to your grief, many of which may keep you from enjoying full physical or emotional health. Your days, and possibly your night as well, seem to be dominated by the loss of your loved one. In order to better move forward, to work through your grief and put together plans for your future, bereavement counselling can be an important first step. If you believe that your physical health or safety is in danger then don t delay in seeking out bereavement counselling services. Cruse Bereavement Care and the British Association of Counselling are both excellent starting points for finding a bereavement counsellor or support group.
What To Expect from Bereavement Counselling
Bereavement counselling is a specialised type of counselling that involves supporting individuals who have experienced the loss of a loved one. This counselling helps them work through their grief as well as perhaps learn coping mechanisms to help them when they are on their own. Bereavement counselling is recommended for anyone, of any age, whose loss seems overwhelming or whose life is being adversely affected by their grief.
Grief can be described as the emotional response to the death of a loved one. Most often grief is equated simply with sadness, though this is not exactly the case. Grief often involves a progression of different emotions and reactions that include shock and/or numbness, anxiety, anger and sadness. It may take days, weeks, months or even years for someone who is grieving to cycle through several different emotions, and some people never experience all of these emotions due to a particular loss. Others may experience some emotions related to one loss but different emotions due to another. This is perfectly normal. There is no set itinerary for grief, though if there is a distinct lack of emotional response, or an emotional response so overwhelming that it begins to affect a person s employment, education or personal relationships then it may be best to consult a counsellor.
Stages of Grief
Though there is no set pathway for grief, it has been theorised that some distinct stages may be discernable in the bereaved. The Kubler-Ross model of grief, which developed after Elizabeth Kubler-Ross investigated this cycle in many grieving individuals, describes grief as a five stage process. Denial, anger, bargaining depression and acceptance are all stages identified by Kubler-Ross. However, this does not mean that all bereaved individuals will experience all stages, that all stages will be experienced in the same way, or that all stages will be experienced in the same order. This model may help others make sense of grief, but those who are bereaved should be concerned only with what they are feeling and how they are coping – not with fitting a theoretical model.
Bereavement counselling, whether it be one-on-one with a private therapist or in a group setting, aims to help an individual explore his or her emotions. At the first meeting, the bereaved will likely be asked about his or her loss, about his or her relationship to the deceased, and about his or her own life now that (s)he has lost a loved one. Answering these questions often means tapping into sadness or anger, so emotional outbursts should not be censored. Crying and yelling may come naturally during bereavement counselling and certainly will not offend the counsellor.
Allowing an individual to explore his or her emotions without guilt or censure is often what appeals most about bereavement counselling. In group settings such outbursts will not be surprising, though obviously the time spent with each group member will be more limited than in a one-to-one session. However, any emotional outbursts aimed at the therapist or other group members should not be tolerated and in fact there may be recognised rules against such situations. The length of time for which bereavement counselling will continue will most likely be decided between the counsellor and the bereaved, and will likely be discussed as counselling progresses.
Turning to bereavement counselling after the loss of a loved one is not an admission of weakness, but instead it is an admission of the strength to seek help when it is needed.
Children and Grief Counselling
Though they may not show it in the same way, children may grieve just as intensely as adults when they suffer a loss in their lives. There are ways that adults can help children cope with grief, and grief counselling for children may be an option. There are also a number of support organisations to which bereaved children and their families can turn as needed.
How Children Display Grief And Bereavement
Children are usually not be able to verbalise their grief as an adult would, and their understanding of loss and grief are usually not as sophisticated. But this does not mean that children do not experience grief. Instead, watching children s actions can often reveal a great deal about their emotions. Some children may become destructive, others may become withdrawn. Changes in sleep patterns, eating habits or concentration/work habits can also be signs of grief. Grieving children may also be more emotional than usual, less emotional than usual, want to talk about the deceased, not want to talk about the deceased or continue on as if nothing has happened.
Helping Children Cope With Grief
There are so many possible ways that children can display grief and bereavement that it can be confusing for the adults in their lives. Adults should always provide a safe environment for children and their emotions, but will likely want to encourage children to channel these emotions.
Encouraging children to draw, paint, write stories or talk about their feelings are all ways in which adults can help children open up, and it may be that the adults themselves will want to discuss certain memories or tell children that they are having similar emotions to help them discuss their own thoughts and feelings. At the same time, helping children stick to a fairly familiar routine is also important so that they don t feel that too much has changed or that their lives are too out of control.
Grief Counselling for Children
Many children find comfort and understanding following the death of a loved one by attending grief counselling sessions. Grief counsellors, also known as bereavement counsellors, give children the chance to express their emotions in a safe environment that is an alternative to their own homes.
Many children find it easier to open up in a neutral environment, or away from relatives if they believe that they might upset them by discussing their feelings. Trained, experienced counsellors who work with bereaved children will have a variety of activities and even small ceremonies to help children work through their grief and will be able to supply adults with further information and resources for helping their children.
Support Organisations For Bereaved Children
A variety of support organisations exist for bereaved children in the UK. Cruse Bereavement Care, the Child Bereavement Trust, the Child Bereavement Network, and Winston s Wish are all organisations dedicated to supporting bereaved children. Local GPs, schools and colleges and religious organisations will also likely have further information about support organisations for bereaved children in a given area.
Children often display their grief in different ways, and there are many actions that adults can take to support them. Grief counselling for children is also an option, and contacting a support organisation for bereaved children will help families find experienced grief counsellors for children in a given area.