What is grief counselling?

When someone is struggling with grief, people might suggest ‘you should get some grief counselling’. But what is grief counselling and how do you know if you need it?

What is grief counselling?

Grief is a natural process and almost everyone will experience loss at some point in their lives. But for some people it can be hard to return to normal life after a death. These people may need extra support from a grief counsellor or specialist. This can take the form of talking therapy or a support group with people going through the same thing. 

Is it okay to need grief counselling?

Of course! There’s no shame in asking for help. We’re all different and will react differently to grief. How we feel after a death will depend on who died, their relationship to us, how they died and on occasion our mental and physical health. 

Does everyone need grief counselling?

If you’re struggling with grief, you might have been told you need counselling. But there’s actually a range of different things that can help if you’re finding it hard to cope:

Some people need more in-depth help, and this can involve counselling.

What does a therapist or counsellor do?

  • Offer a safe and confidential space to help explore emotional problems
  • Help you make sense of your world
  • Help you to explore feelings and thoughts, in order to resolve emotional distress
  • Help you towards a better understanding of self and others, which in turn may lead to an improved ability to relate to others. 

A therapist or counsellor will not:

  • Prescribe drugs 
  • Offer help with practical problems, such as financial or housing issues 
  • Unless working in a specialised service, they are unlikely to have specific information about health-related problems

Skills to look for in a counsellor

Counsellors and therapists are trained in a range of skills, which include: 

  • Empathy: being able to tune in to the way other people feel
  • Listening and questioning skills: to help you explain and work through how you are feeling
  • Professional skills and knowledge: knowing when and how to offer help and suggestions, and knowing how to respond in situations where someone is seriously at risk
  • Self-awareness: knowing how to help someone while protecting themselves and keeping all relationships professional

At Cruse, our bereavement supporters are trained in counselling skills and how to use these to support someone who is grieving. Some are also fully trained counsellors but this is not a requirement for our volunteers. 

Cruse offers a range of support, and this can include individual sessions with a bereavement volunteer. If you are offered this kind of support you will have a series of sessions (between one and six is usual) over the phone or via video call (or in person when appropriate and when we can safely resume this). 

What happens during a Cruse support session?

In Cruse support sessions you can explore your grief with your bereavement volunteer. You can talk about the person who died, how their death is affecting you, and how you are coping. Using counselling skills, your supporter will help you to understand what you are going through and develop coping strategies. 

Talk to us

We’re here to support you while you’re grieving. Find out the ways we can help.