When do you know when you should seek grief counselling?

by Barbara
(Stockport, UK)

A friend of mine lost her son a few months ago. She doesn't seem to be coping very well at all. I tried to get her to see someone, but she says she doesn't want to. Am I right in thinking she needs help?

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Apr 22, 2013
When to seek help from a grief counselor. . .
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Betty here: here is some general advice about when to seek help. If you think your friend is suffering from the symptoms below, perhaps she does need help. But the friendly shoulder to cry on that you are providing may be enough for her.

During the first few weeks you may be in shock. You might be numb and unable to cry. Or you may be unable to stop crying. These are normal symptoms. At first, family and friends are around and you are busy organising a funeral and settling financial affairs. There is so much to do. So many things to do that time goes by in a daze.

After the funeral when family have returned home is the time when you need a support group of close friends that you can ring when you are feeling low. They should be people who are reliable with bags full of empathy. Some people have their minister, others talk to their doctor. It is essential to have this back up. Some bereaved can't stay on their own for a few weeks. Others like their own space. You need some support and a friendly shoulder to cry on for the first few months.

Often that is all you will need.

When is help needed:

If weeping and lack of sleep stops you from seeing friends or having any quality of life at all.

If there are no calm, periods in the day when you are coping.

If you are reluctant to get out of bed or talk to friends.

If you are not eating, or if you are drinking too much.

If you are reluctant to go to your normal social groups or church and you are becoming isolated.

If any of the above apply to you, then consult your doctor and ask for a referral to a local grief counsellor.

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How can I help my friend who is suffering grief after her husband died?

by JADE
(Hong Kong )

My friend recently lost her husband, and is very withdrawn and upset. I'd like to be able to help, but really don't know what to do for the best. She doesn't want to go out or do anything. I'm a bit worried about her to be honest.

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Aug 11, 2013
How to help those who are grieving
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Let your friend know that you are there to help out if they need anything at all. Even if they don't request help at first it is a comfort to know friends have offered.

Send emails or texts every few days to ask how they are or if they want to meet up for a walk. It shows that you care and are thinking about them. Keep in touch by phone if they are now alone chatting to a friend is great therapy.

Take around a home made casserole or cake occasionally. When you're grieving you don't always eat as well as you should. Learn to be a good listener. Sometimes you will hear their sadness and anguish, but other times you will reminisce about old times. At low ebb times just be there to hold their hand or give a hug. Don't be afraid of their tears they can be healing. Being there for someone means you know when to give them space and when they need your presence.

Offer to take them for a drive, for a picnic or to a movie. Invite the to your home for a meal. If they seem to refuse all offers at first just give them time and try again. It is so easy after a loss just to crawl away into your own shell of pain. Don't give up on your friend just give a liitle space and try again.

For more ideas see my page on this site about helping others cope with grief.

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Is it appropriate to express grief through humour?

by Mary
(Rome, Italy)

My father's funeral was last week, and we all got the giggles and ended up in hysterics. There was one particular aunt who thought it was terrible and that we were being really disrespectful. I thought my Dad would have enjoyed it, and seen the funny side. But I do feel a bit bad about upsetting my aunt.

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Jun 09, 2013
Celebrate your loved one's life
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Over the years I have attended many family and friends' funerals. What remains with me are many endearing memories, often of laughter, often family recalling episodes of the deceased's life and their humour. Only this week there was much laughter at the funeral of one of Australia's well known TV personalities. Wouldn't we all like to be remembered with fun and joy not misery. Please celebrate the life your loved ones had, however long or short.

Sometimes the laughter can be hysterical and lead to tears, but this is all part of the roller coaster emotions of the grieving process. So, yes, it is very appropriate to express grief through humour and it is a widespread practice. There can be very serious parts of the service but also happy memories of the fun in their lives too.

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How do other people cope with their grief?

by Brenda
(Colchester, Essex, UK)

I would appreciate some ideas about how others are managing to cope with grief.

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May 21, 2013
How people cope with grief
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Hello Brenda, and first of all, may I say how sorry I am for your loss.

Everyone is differnet, but it can be helpful to hear how others have coped with their grief in the early days. Some talk to their loved ones' photographs, others like to attend the grave at the cemetery with flowers. One friend wrote her husband a letter daily. Another liked to take her loved one's clothes to bed each night. Some people find comfort in writing a diary through their loss and trying to describe their feelings, while others express themselves through painting music or dance. Everyone has a personal story to tell. Discussing the loved one with people who knew them well can be enormous help.

An uncle of mine was convinced that his wife’s spirit was with him all the time. He talked to her as if she was there. He coped alone for 10 years following her death and he was over 90 when he died. That was his way of coping with the loss of his beloved wife of 60 years.

It’s good to talk to friends or supportive individuals but be careful because there are unhelpful individuals who think that their loss or their grief was worse than anyone else’s. They are incapable of genuine empathy and they don’t even realise that they are probably causing a lot of hurt by a selfish thoughtless remark. Choose your friends or family members carefully and open up to those who are really good listeners.

Read the other pages on this site for lots more support and advice.

Betty

Nov 23, 2013
Coping with grief
by: Wendy

Hi Brenda,
I am so sorry for your loss.
Grief is a very individual thing. I feel you have to do it your way in your time. Friends are well meaning but unless they have been there and done that they do not know what they are talking about. If you have no counsellor of support group to share with just listen to your inner self. Take time to listen to your inner self and you will find the guidance you need. In times of severe emotion we can lose our sense of self. Feelings rush at us like a tsunami and it is difficult to find the time and mental courage to look inside ourselves. If you can do this you will find what is right for you at this point in time.
I hope this helps you a little,
Wendy

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Anyone Out There Getting Sued ?

by Fred
(San Diego)

Hello And Peace To All,
I moved in with my dear dad three years before his passing at 93. I loved him with all my heart, and was glad to help. He was in a wheel chair for almost 2 years. My 2 elder brothers, and 2 elder sisters had abandoned my father. Until, his stroke, then my sisters would visit him in the board and care facilities. My eldest sister , "Z." made our lives miserable.
I haven't been friends with these people in 25 years,but 13 weeks after his death Z, and her attorney began demanding documents from me. My attorney and I complied, but nothing satisfied her. Now, she is trying to remove me as Trustee, and the legal bills are huge. I'm getting professional psych support, but Z is telling bold faced lies about me. My attorneys believe that the case will be thrown out once we are in front of the judge. Z is a deeply disturbed woman with nothing better to do. She will eliminate our trust cash reserves out of pure spite. I think this is more painful at this time because of the holidays.
Thank-you,
Fred

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Does it really help to talk to someone about your grief?

by June
(Birmingham, Alabama)

I'm not sure whether I should tell someone how I'm feeling.

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Jun 09, 2013
A trouble shared is a trouble halved
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

The human species is a social being, from pre-school to college or work days, friends to confide in have been part of most of our lives. The timeless saying “a trouble shared is a trouble halved” has never been truer than when you're grieving following a death or separation. If you are now alone after years of company, the need to talk to someone is essential. It is also very important to choose carefully the friends you want to confide in.

Enjoy other conversations with acquaintances and neighbours and keep your problem talks to your special friends or close family member. If you are feeling low or have a problem some one else looking at it with you can really help. It may put things into perspective and add a new dimension. The more you talk about your loss the easier it is to move to acceptance. People do want to help when you are feeling low. No one knows how you feel unless you tell them. An outpouring of grief whether tears or talking is healing and an important part of the pathways we're going along.

Read some of our other pages about Dealing with Grief and the Emotions of Grief, and if you have trouble finding someone comforting to talk to perhaps consider looking for a grief support group or counsellor.

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Can grief over the death of a loved one cause physical pain or illness?

by Susan
(Bendigo, Australia)

I have been suffering from one infection after another since my daughter died in January this year, and I've been having a lot of joint pain. Is it because of the grief do you think?

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Apr 22, 2013
Yes, grieving can lead to health issues
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

First of all, may I say how sorry I am for your loss.

Whenever people describe the loss of a close friend or family member they say they get heartache. At times, this can be real pain, often caused by anxiety and panic attacks.

Depression can be common during the grieving process. Lack of sleep can be a source of distress and anxiety which can also lead to depression.

When anyone is feeling unhappy and anxious they are more prone to colds and other infections. This could be due to seeing more people and the many hugs of support, or not eating adequately during the early shock and grief. The immune system is compromised. Existing illnesses may be more noticeable, for example, blood pressure may increase.

Whenever there is a bereavement or separation the concentration span is affected. There is a tendency to have more accidents with the car or around the home.

Shock of the death of a loved one has been known to cause stroke or a heart attack in the elderly, when they have underlying illness.

So, yes grieving can lead to health issues which need to be discussed with a doctor where needed.




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Should My Son Be Forced to Visit His Mother's Graveside?

by Ian McBurney
(Scotland)

Should my teenage son be forced to visit his recently deceased mother's grave ?


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Aug 18, 2016
Everyone grieves in their own time
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Everyone grieves in their own time and way. If your son is not ready to visit his mother's grave side then it is his choice. He will accept the loss and visit in his own time.

I don't know how old your son is exactly, but you may find it useful to read some of our pages on Children and Grief and Teen Grief which you will find in the drop down menu under "Cope with Grief".

Our deepest sympathy to your family at this difficult time.

Best wishes

Betty and the Grief and Sympathy Team

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Memorial Magnolia Tree

The Magnolia is one of the earth's oldest plants, with a spectacular flower which dates back 95 million years.  What a beautiful specimen to commemorate a life. 

These trees are grown by the foremost magnolia nursery in the country and they will send a variety most suited to the recipient's climate. 

The flowers in spring will bring joy to the bereaved and help to heal their heart.


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