When someone passes away, our emotional responses can be extremely strong. Feelings of grief can often be overwhelming and often we don’t know how to process what we’re feeling. If you know someone who is struggling with processing their grief, it might be helpful to speak with them about seeking external help through a bereavement counselor.
What does a bereavement counselor do?
Before recommending that a loved one seeks the help of a bereavement counselor, it’s important to know what they do. A bereavement or grief counselor is a professional whose goal it is to help you cope with grief and loss. This is a form of psychotherapy. A grief or bereavement counselor understands the broad range of emotions that people encounter after a loss and know that there is often no logic to the feelings they are experiencing. They will provide the tools and insight necessary to help us through the grieving process.
What are signs that someone needs bereavement counseling?
There are many signs that someone you love needs bereavement counseling. The first is numbness to emotion. It’s common to feel sad or confused after a loss, but if someone is feeling completely numb to all emotions, this could be cause for alarm. Similarly, if someone is experiencing prolonged loss of enjoyment, they might need help from a bereavement counselor. Life does not stop just because someone passes, and if your loved one cannot get joy in things they did before, you might want to speak with them about seeking help.
If someone is engaging in busywork to keep their mind from thinking about the loss, this is not healthy either. Eventually, the emotions will catch up and it will hit them like a brick wall. Alternatively, if someone is engaging in nothing at all, this is also reason to be concerned. If your loved one is avoiding spending time with friends and family or is unable to continue their normal activities, you might want to suggest they seek professional help.
Behavior changes are also something to look out for. If someone is acting angry and aggressive when they are normally soft-spoken and kind, this could be a sign that they need bereavement counseling. Turning to alcohol, drugs, or other harmful substances is another big red flag that shouldn’t be ignored.
How do I approach the subject of seeing a bereavement counselor?
If your loved one is exhibiting any of the signs above, you might want to talk to them about seeking help from a professional bereavement counselor. This is not an easy conversation to have, but the best way to start is by bringing up changes that you have noticed in their behavior and mood. Sometimes this conversation alone can lead to self-realization and they might come to the conclusion that they need help on their own.
You should also remind them that change takes time and that they won’t find acceptance right away because grief is a process. Mention that a bereavement counselor can give them the tools and guidance necessary to guide them through the process and you can even offer to help them find a counselor.
However much someone may need help, you also need to be prepared for them to refuse help. They might not be ready or willing to accept help, and while you can gently remind them of all the ways that a professional bereavement counselor can help, they ultimately have the right to decline counseling. If that is the case, continue offering the support and comfort that you have been.