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What can help?

Grief is not a problem you can solve. There is no guaranteed list of things you can do which will overcome the way losing someone can make you feel. From the moment the person you love dies your world changes. It can feel like a nightmare; as if you are in an unfamiliar country where the rules are strange and the language people are talking sounds familiar but doesn't make any sense. Then, slowly—almost by trial and error—you start to find your way around; you start to feel more comfortable. Things are never the same, of course, but you start to find yourself coping and making plans and getting caught up in life again.

Talk about it

Talk about your feelings and thoughts and memories as much as you need. Putting these things into words and sharing those words with others is how you come to understand and accept what has happened. It is how we heal.

Keep a diary or a journal

Recording feelings, special events or significant memories can help bring a more complete understanding of how you are coping and can gradually help to ease the pain. Write as much as you need, as often as you need.

Set yourself small challenges

These can be as simple as making lunch, going to the shops or telephoning a friend. Don't make the challenge too hard and don't worry if you don't manage it straight away. Over time you will get into the habit of focussing on tasks in a relaxed way.

Take time out to be alone

For many people the most significant grieving they experience happens when they are spending some quiet time in solitude. These times, without distractions or other people, are moments which you can dedicate to the person who has died and to your feelings for them.

Gentle exercise

Exercise helps clear the mind and to release nervous energy. A brief walk every day can make an enormous positive difference.

Grief counselling

Not everyone who is bereaved wants or needs grief counselling, but for some people it can be a very helpful way of coping with their feelings and understanding what they are going through.

Grief counselling offers people the opportunity to:

  • talk with someone who is independent of the family situation and experienced in talking with people struggling with loss and distress
  • explore options and practical ways of coping
  • express how they are feeling in a safe, professional setting.

For many people, grief is a time of enormous fear and confusion as well as distress. Grief counselling can help people come to an understanding of their experience—and the experiences of those around them—which can be important as they heal. The understanding is not something they are given by the counsellor, it is something they develop for themselves within the context of the counselling relationship.

Grief counselling is not a way of making yourself feel better or stopping the pain. Instead, it's a way of coming to understand the pain and loss. That acceptance can lead to a deeper experience of the loss and that depth of experience, the feeling of grief, leads to healing.

Grief counselling tends not to be helpful in the initial period following the death. It can be more useful after the initial shock has passed and people are starting the slow work of coming back to terms with what has happened. As this involves a willingness to be open and honest with someone who is a total stranger, the decision to attend counselling is a very personal one. The benefits of attending grief counselling may only be realised by those who want to attend.

Need support?

Coronial Family Services can provide advice and information about bereavement counselling services for family members of persons whose deaths are being, or have been, investigated by a Queensland coroner.

Please call +61 7 3096 2794 or 1800 449 171 Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm or email FSS.counsellors@health.qld.gov.au.

Other services you can contact for support include:

Last updated: 23 February 2018