Grief and Loss: How counselling can help

By Callum Woodward

We will all experience grief to a certain degree. Everyone experiences it – processes it – in different ways. The key word there is processes. Grief is not a linear path to feeling ‘normal’ again. It is a long journey of allowing yourself to reflect upon things and fully understand your feelings.

My own personal experience stems from the loss of my eldest brother – Matthew. He was diagnosed with bowel cancer in the April of 2014 after major surgery. He passed away nine weeks later in the June of that year. He was thirty-one at the time. I was nearly seventeen.

Being so young and having to face something like that was totally beyond me. I can remember a long period of time in which I barely slept, had no control over my emotions and I rarely ate.

My days would consist of me walking for miles and miles for no reason whatsoever. I would just walk. So numb to the world and unable to think of anything worth doing. This may have continued for months and months. I am honestly unsure. I can hardly remember anything during that part of my life. I remember making pasta to take to college for my lunch the following day. In my haste to get the pasta in a bowl, I dropped it. Pasta went everywhere. I screamed. I cried for hours. I can’t explain why. I just felt as if everything has just gone wrong at once.

What I do remember, however, is the need to seek help. While it was nice to confide with my family about what I was thinking, there were things that I felt like I couldn’t tell them. It seems strange, they were going through exactly the same thing as I was. But I couldn’t talk to them about it.

I needed to talk to a professional about it. Someone who was completely neutral to the situation and could listen to everything that I had to say – without the worry of judgement.

Thankfully, I was lucky to be able to see a lovely counsellor who was there to just listen to me. I didn’t feel any pressure to talk, nor did I feel like I was being judged in any way. It was liberating. I always looked forward to the sessions because, even though I often left feeling worn down and exhausted – I felt as though progress had been made.

Counselling is not a case of having one session or having a breakthrough and then you’re cured. It is a long road of small realisations that lead you to a better, healthier way of perceiving things.

Over the course of my sessions, I would have some sessions where I would sit and cry. Sometimes, I wouldn’t say a word. A few times, I spoke about my cats the whole time. It just felt nice have the space to speak without judgement. I can absolutely say that those sessions were incredibly helpful in my emotional journey.

Of course, there are days in which I stumble. I will always allow myself to cry if I need to. There are certain songs that I can’t listen to anymore as they remind me too much of Matthew. There’s a particular aftershave that he wore. Sometimes strangers walk past me, wearing that aftershave – and the breeze that hits me reminds me of him. It makes me sad. But instead of internalising all of my feelings; bottling everything up until it spills over and makes a mess, I allow myself to be sad and to feel those emotions.

I have spoken to people who have never gone to a counsellor before, or perhaps never even considered it. I cannot recommend counselling enough. It is not a bad thing to ask for help. Because by learning how to deal with the pain of your loss, you can learn how to move forward and live your life.

If you are struggling with the loss of someone you may find counselling can help you to process your loss. The Lighthouse Counselling Partnership (TLCP) have experienced counsellors who will provide space and empathy for you to explore your feelings. Please reach out to us today and find out more about how we can help you.

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