Grieving? Places to Find Free Grief Counselling
Grief is a complex and powerful emotion. It affects everyone in different ways and there is no blueprint for grief that you can follow. When we lose someone that we love, it can alter our lives in so many ways. Learning to adapt to these changes and understand our place in the world without this person can be a profound adjustment.
Grief is often described as a process, and there are also stages of grief that are often described to help those grieving understand their feelings. The stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. This is not a linear process and those grieving might find that they jump between the stages, feeling unable to move on.
Grief counselling and seeking support is often recommended to those dealing with grief. Talking about your grief can help you to understand what is happening and put it into perspective. It can also give you helpful coping mechanisms to enable you to manage your feelings.
What is grief counselling?
Grief counselling can take many different forms. It can be formal counselling between an individual and a trained counsellor, or it could be peer counselling where you have an opportunity to share your feelings with those who are going through similar troubles.
Grief counselling might not work for everyone, but it can be helpful for those who just need a place to talk about their feelings. Grief counselling can also help you to understand what you are going through and ensure you have the tools and support you need to move forward.
There are many ways to access grief counselling, but if you are looking for free support, try these methods.
Ask your employer
Many employers offer mental health services for their employees. They would much rather pay for you to visit a grief counsellor than to see you take an extended leave of absence from work to cope with your grief. Staying at work can be incredibly productive for helping individuals to manage their grief as it will give them a structure to their lives.
Before seeking private counselling or support, it’s always worth asking if your employer offers any sponsored support. Even if they don’t have a formal programme, they might be willing to pay for your counselling to support you to stay in employment.
Speak to a grief charity
Charities like Cruse offer grief counselling support and more to those coping with loss. As it is a charity, they do not ask for money for their services. Instead, you might consider raising money to help their services in the future.
They offer a free phone service where you can speak to volunteers trained to help you speak about your grief in a productive way. You can also use their online chat function if you don’t feel ready to speak to someone.
This is a great place to start if you are struggling to handle your grief. While they might not be able to offer regular counselling with the same person, you will know you always have a friendly voice on the other end of the phone to help you in a moment of need. Here is also a list of useful contacts.
Look for peer support groups
Speaking to other people who are going through a similar experience can help you to find perspective and feel better supported. Friends and family might not know what you are going through, but a peer support group will be filled with people who are experiencing the exact same things as you.
Peer support relies on everyone being open, respectful and honest about their experiences. But many are happy for individuals to show up and just listen until they are ready to speak. Listening to other people speak about their grief can be a huge source of support for many people. It will help you to understand that you aren’t alone in your grief and there is always a way forward.
Online message boards and Facebook groups might also help you to connect with others experiencing loss. If you are unable to attend a physical peer support group, connecting with people online might be better for you.
You’ll have the advantage of being able to speak to people all around the world. You will also be able to check in with your support group at a time that is convenient for you. So if you experiencing the worst of your grief at 3 am, you’ll be able to reach out for support when you need it.
Online support groups are also ideal if you feel uncomfortable expressing your thoughts and feelings in person. You have the opportunity to hide behind an online persona, so you might find it easier to be honest about how you are really feeling.
Try the library
Sometimes the best grief counselling happens when you are alone. Working through your grief on your own is certainly possible with the right support, and this is where your local library can be incredibly useful. Books about handling grief can help those who are more independent to work through their grief.
If you don’t have the time or motivation for in-person counselling, then reading about grief can be the next best thing. Fiction books can help you just as much as non-fiction books. Memoirs about grief can also help you to understand what you are going through.
Some popular titles about grief include:
- The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
- The Beginners Goodbye – Anne Tyler
- Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed
- Grief is the thing with feathers – Max Porter
- An Introduction to Coping with Grief, by Sue Morris
- It’s OK that you’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand, by Megan Devine
Ask your librarian for help finding books about grief that might be helpful to you. You can read them in the library or take them home and digest them in your own time. Coping with grief by learning more about it and how it affects people is just as effective as talking.