Bereavement Counselling Dublin: Part 1: When someone is dying, they go through five stages, according to well-known psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: the process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression before reaching acceptance.
What is less well known is the parallel process that those left behind go through. It is also a process of dying for the bereaved. Their old life has died. They must go through a mourning process that is also an adjustment to acceptance and is very similar to what the dying person is going through.
But, for the bereaved, with a death or an end, comes the possibility of a birth, the birth of a new life, which can be very hard to see when we are in the middle of grieving.
Bereavement Counselling Dublin
Bereavement counselling is there to guide the bereaved through their process. They go through a four stage process: 1) Shock. 2) Anger, yearning, anxiety. 3) Disorganisation and despair. 4) Reorganised behaviour as start of recovery.
In the shock stage, the experience can be overwhelming. Then it’s about processing the feelings: Anger at the dying person for making you experience that loss is healthy. Unhealthy anger is displaced as blaming of family or doctors; or yourself.
Anxiety can be felt as the loss of the person represents a loss of their own identity.
Disintegration and new life
Disorganisation and despair: The bereaved need support to function as they are questioning their own identity at the deepest level. This is also a process of growth.
Reorganised behaviour as start of recovery: The end goal of mourning is to emotionally relocate the deceased to the past, based on the full digestion of the experience of loss, and a moving on to allow new relationships. This can happen too early to avoid the pain of the loss but then the grief is brought into a new relationship.
For a wider description of how counselling works, and to see my own availability for counselling, check out