Bereaved individuals may enter into an experience of grief known as complicated grief, the manifestations of which can be similar to depression.
If a bereaved friend or family member begins to exhibit signs of complicated grief or depression, it may be time to start looking for a bereavement counselor. But how do you help a grieving friend or colleague find counseling help? Which qualities are important in a bereavement counselor?
How do you, furthermore, communicate your presence and concern without being intrusive? For example, how do you choose the sympathy gift that communicates your empathy in a clear and authentic way?
Although standing by a bereaved friend can be challenging, a little help can go long way. Since bereavement can lead to depression in some susceptible individuals, finding help is important.
Listed below are some helpful considerations in picking a reliable bereavement counselor.
Some Essential Qualities in a Bereavement Counselor
- Specialization and track record
Grief may stem from various kinds of losses, such as losing a job, dealing with a terminal illness, or losing a loved one in death. If someone is dealing with the death of a loved one, it is best to go for a counselor who has experience in counseling bereaved patients. It also helps to read up on reviews or seek recommendations to learn more about the counselor or therapist even before the first session.
- Ethical but practical
A responsible counselor should abide by the ethical standards of the profession. S/he must keep client information confidential, communicate in a culturally-sensitive way, and must obtain continuing education to hone his or her counseling expertise. Beyond this, a counselor must also propose feasible solutions to problems which may have been hindering the patient from making a full recovery.
- Flexible and compassionate
A bereaved individual, especially one struggling with complicated grief, can be unstable, erratic, or uncommunicative. A bereavement counselor must listen without judgment and make necessary adjustments to accommodate the needs of the patient, first and foremost.
Signs that a Bereaved Friend May Be in Need of Counseling
There are a few things that may serve as signs of complicated grief in an individual dealing with a huge loss. Normal grief passes and wanes with time, but complicated grief may last for a longer period. Often, complicated grief is associated with feelings of numbness, lack of enjoyment for the usual things, and even thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
At this point, setting up an appointment with a bereavement counselor can be a step in the right direction.
The symptoms of complicated grief, such as numbness, withdrawal from social connections, and self-harm, are similar to that of depression. It is possible for someone with depressive tendencies to fall into depression due to immense grief. Friends and family can be more attentive to these signs and thus tactfully suggest counseling or clinical help when and where necessary.
Presence and Sympathy Gifts: Ways to Show Sympathy and Support
Other than helping your friend, colleague, or family member seek clinical support, you can also show them empathy in a number of ways.
You may, for example, encourage and accompany them in worthwhile activities that foster healing. Vacations, meditation, participating in community activities can help your friend cope with loss in a healthy and active way.
If you cannot be physically present, however, sending a sympathy gift can speak tangibly of your friendship and care. As a way to help patients recover from their grief, counselors may advise ways to memorialize the deceased loved one. Your friend may plan to put up a garden memorial or to travel to scatter ashes in memorable places. These memorials can serve as an opportunity for you to find the perfect remembrance token for your friend or a family member.
With the help of a trusted bereavement counselor, the experience of grief doesn’t have to be complex, prolonged, and pervasive. Grieving can, in fact, serve as a helpful way for any individual to cope with his or her loss and move on.
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