Samantha De Bono Counselling Bromley

Bromley & Harley Street

tel: 07588 931 401

email me

Grief Counselling, can it help?

By Samantha De Bono

I can’t believe so much time has passed since my Mum died and although I have accepted her death, it feels like only recently I walked out of the hospital having watched her slip away from us.

I remember back then someone suggested I go for Grief Counselling and my thoughts around it veered from “I don’t think I could sit with a stranger and pour out this amount of pain” to “what if Grief Counselling makes me get over her too quickly, what if I forget her?” to finally “I think I might need Grief Counselling because I’m drowning here”.

Grief hits us all differently, it is unique to us all despite the fact that we are going through the same thing. I remember that day vividly, my sister seemed so together and capable, she even cooked a meal for us all. I sat physically shivering as if freezing cold, teeth chattering yet numb to any feeling at all. Some time later my sister said she couldn’t remember cooking or doing anything particularly, she described herself as being on “automatic pilot”.

I remember over the days following my mother's death, how I would wake up in the morning and wonder why I had a sick and sinking feeling in my heart and stomach and then all at once I remembered and my grief would come back, and a wave of heartbreaking pain would flood over me, I could not believe I would not hug her or hear her laugh again. It just did not compute, my little boy was not going to run to the phone shouting “Nanny…”. It could not be true.

Time moved on and people started to get on with their lives, fewer condolences arrived, people stopped asking how I was doing and even my husband seemed to think I should now be “better” and that I should be back to normal.  I wasn’t. True I didn’t cry in my sleep anymore or wake up covered in sweat wondering if I had dreamt her death, but those anxious fearful feelings had given way to a feeling of deep deep sadness and depression. I remember Christmas approaching and knowing I should be excited for my beautiful little boy, but all I could think was how I dreaded Christmas without my mum. Life had no joy left, each day felt heavy and difficult to navigate.

One day whilst waiting to collect my son from nursery school, I started chatting to an older woman who said she was there to collect her grandson for her daughter who had just given birth to her second child. Although I smiled and chatted on, I felt a tidal wave of pain wash over me. I felt envious of her daughter (whom I hadn’t even met). I also felt angry, but I didn’t know who to be angry at. All I knew was it felt so unfair! My Mum was only 59, why didn’t God take an 89 year old? My mum had a 2 year old grandson who adored her, why was she taken from him?  If only we could visit her from time to time to get used to her absence. But all those thoughts were either irrational or irrelevant.  My Mum was gone and there was nothing I could do about it. It was so final!

An odd part of grief is that it brings ones mortality to the forefront of our minds. Until I experienced the death of a loved one, I had never wondered how long I would live or how I would die, but now I did. For a period of time I even worried when my husband left the house in case he never came back. I worried about headaches or whether I had an undetected heart problem. Grief had made me feel vulnerable and insecure, I feared losing control of my life. As healing went on this feeling thankfully took a back seat.

They say “time’s a great healer” and it’s true, it is. But what I think is overlooked is the concept each person has of said time.  My healing time is likely to be different to yours or anyone else’s and what I was unaware of during my “time”, was that the stages of grief that we all follow come and go at a different pace to another’s grief stages.

I didn’t know at the time, but looking back, I see I went through all 5 stages of grief. Not in a nice straight uncomplicated line, but back and forth through classic Denial, then into Depression and numbness onto Anger and Bargaining and eventually into Acceptance. But even now at times I slip back into one or other of the stages. Perhaps not to the intense degree as I did all those years ago, but enough to confirm that Grief and what it brings never really goes away.  Acceptance doesn’t mean forgotten, it doesn’t mean no more pain or sadness or missing, it just means that time between those feelings gets larger and our recovery from those feelings gets quicker.

Grief Counselling can definitely help with moving through the stages of Grief, it worked for me, but like any Counselling, it’s about the relationship you build with the Counsellor. Don’t be afraid to call more than one and talk to them about what you are going through, that way you’ll know how easy or difficult it is to talk to that person. Just because someone has trained to be a therapist doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right for you. This is your Grief and if you feel you need a professional to help you through, make sure it’s the right professional.

My heart goes out to anyone going through Grief. My advice is be gentle with yourself, don’t expect yourself to be feeling anything other than what you are feeling. Understand that with Grief the only way out of it, is through it. It won’t feel this hard for ever I promise!

Samantha De Bono – 07588 931 401
Counselling & Psychotherapy
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