Psychotherapy and Counselling In Brighton and Hove Steffi Bednarek   MA   BA   MBACP

Bereavement Counselling - Coping with Bereavement


Grieving is like having broken ribs

On the outside you look fine but

with every breath it hurts


Grief is probably the emotion that we are the most terrified of. It’s power and intensity is overwhelming, especially if we have lost someone or something that was very close to our hearts. Grief changes our perspective of what matters in life and often we feel in the grip of something that may not allow us to connect, love and live our lives as before.

A client of mine said that her grief sometimes feels like ‘a dark secret’. And that is true for a lot of people. We live in a society where we are able to take a certain amount of days off for the loss of a close family member. If we need more than 1-2 weeks, we need to see our GP and get a ‘sick note’. This instills the idea that there may be something wrong with us if we allow ourselves the time to grieve.

But of course grief is an important and healthy emotion. The gut-wrenching pain of loss is the price we pay for having opened up to love. The acute, deep and all consuming feeling of loss will eventually change if grief is allowed to run it’s course, but that takes time and can’t be rushed.

People often don’t have the right kind of support for long enough and feel hurried into ‘feeling better’. Unfortunately our society’s inability to talk about death has left us ill-equipped to talk about grief. All too often we politely dance around it. This leaves many bereaved people feeling like they have to hide their despair and put on a brave face.

Sometimes the idea of feeling the loss of a loved one less intensely one day can seem like a betrayal. Many people feel the presence of the lost loved one in their intense grief. Grief builds a bridge and nobody can say how long this goodbye needs to take. 

There is a lot written about stages of grief and whilst the knowledge of that is helpful to some, others also feel like the stages are a map and that they have to rush along to the next stage.

In my counselling and psychotherapy practice I provide a space in which grief is allowed to unfold in whatever way necessary, including anger, numbness or despair. I see grief as a natural process and I offer to walk alongside you for however long you need. 

In Blackwater Woods

Every year


I have ever learned


in my lifetime

leads back to this: the fires

and the black river of loss

whose other side


is salvation,

whose meaning

none of us will ever know.

To live in this world


you must be able

to do three things:

to love what is mortal;

to hold it

against your bones knowing

your own life depends on it;

and, when the time comes to let it go,

to let it go.

Mary Oliver