Blog Article

How bereavement counseling helped a mother

By Ruth

Bereavement counselling has played an enormous part in helping me get back on my feet after the loss of my 12 year old son, James, in May 2010.  I began about two months after he died.  Prior to that I was in a state of numbed shock.  Counselling very soon became a safe place to off load my confused feelings, my new state of being that I did not even recognise, and it was a place to find a footing, albeit a shaky footing.


After I began counselling, I managed to live from session to session, coping as best I could from one weekly visit to the next.  Each time would see me finding another “piece to the puzzle”, or setting a new frame for my grief, and I would map a course that I could take until the next session.  When I needed to “do something” (such as visit the site where James died) I would talk it over with my Counsellor first and get guidance as to how I would go about it.  This gave me confidence when otherwise I was shaky and uncertain.  At the following session I was able to discuss what happened, and then to chart the next issue that I needed to deal with.  Sometimes it was like moving the same furniture around the same room – rearranging my life now that James was not in it.


With the help of counselling I have :-
*Worked on anniversaries, Christmases and James’ birthdays
*Talked to the people who were last with him
*Visited the places where I used to frequent with James
*Dealt with triggers that set me back
*Learned to help others deal with me
*Learned to deal with people’s questions and lack of tact
*Done EMDR (Eye Movement, Desensitisation and Reprocessing)  therapy
*Explored the trauma
*Moved into new homes, left the home I lived in with James
*Navigated relationships that have changed as a result of James’ death
*Found a voice in the writing of poetry and prose about James
*Explored the changes that may have taken place in James – his turning 18, voice breaking, shaving, girlfriends, how his features would have changed etc –i.e. the events that I have missed out on.


The counselling saved me from getting stuck in my grief, and has afforded me a platform to talk about James, to describe dreams I have had about him, and to voice my fears.  Fear is a part of grief that is often overlooked – until it stares you in the face.  There is the fear of facing the world without James, and the fear of discovering that the world is not as safe a place as I thought, because bad things happen.  A normal day can be turned upside down in a moment, and one’s life can be changed forever.  Grief itself is to be feared – will I ever be the same again after this?  How will this event change me?  How will I survive this?  What does a new “normal” look like? 

After seven years I still attend a counselling session every two months.  This is to keep myself grounded, and to talk over matters about the grief that still bother me, such as an impending anniversary, or the triggers about James that even now, can reduce me to a puddle on the floor.  I want to stay grounded in my grief because it will never go away, and I don’t want it to go away.  If it went away, then it would mean I was okay about James dying – and I will never be alright about that. However, I keep my grief in a safe place, and with my counsellor I can safely bring it out, look at it, observe it, notice changes and then put it away again, to continue on with the other aspects of my life.

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