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(60 Posts)
appygran Thu 18-Jan-18 23:32:49

Just thought I would air this on this forum to get other peoples views. I was bereaved 8 months ago after nursing my huband through terminal cancer.

I thought I was coping well until bout 4 months go when I realised I was'nt. I referred myself to counselling and have been seeing counsellor for the past 4 months. I am not sure that it is helping as I seem to be spending more time now thinking about the trauma of his final weeks than before I started. My gut reaction is stop and say I can take it from here but then people tell me in counselling it can get worse before it gets better. Just wondering if anyone has had counselling and did it help.

MissAdventure Thu 18-Jan-18 23:36:26

Do you think you could manage from here on in?
I'm interested because my gp told me to refer myself for counselling after bereavement, and after the phone consultation I was informed I wasn't going to be accepted.
Do you feel able to move on a little bit, emotionally?

appygran Thu 18-Jan-18 23:50:57

Thank you for replying Miss A. Yes it has helped but now I am begining to feel I am going round in circles. Can I cope, yes I have always coped but do I want to and will further sessions help or just delay me taking control. Still pondering.

MissAdventure Fri 19-Jan-18 00:00:01

I have heard it said during a training session at work that counselling is sometimes considered to be not the best way forward, for exactly the reasons you've said. Its just keeping the wound open. We were told that CBT was being phased in, and counselling out. I have no idea if that is true.
I did feel that I needed to spend some time talking through what happened when I was bereaved. I still feel it would help me. There is only so much my few friends can take of me raking over my sadness, but I feel I want to, just for a while.

WilmaKnickersfit Fri 19-Jan-18 00:22:30

Have you told your counsellor how you're feeling?

I've had several periods of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) over the last 20 years and it hasn't been my experience that it gets worse before it gets better. All though I learned a lot about myself, I only made real progress the last time. I think the reason for this is previously I worked through almost the same CBT areas each time, but wasn't able to change my behaviour once I was on my own. The last time my counsellor focused on the underlying issues and that's when I started making real progress.

Did your counsellor give you an idea of how many sessions you would initially have? After four months I think you could ask about reviewing your progress. Normally you do not just stop having sessions, you start by extending the time between appointments. Talk to your counsellor.

Synonymous Fri 19-Jan-18 00:52:05

That is interesting Wilma as I know someone using CBT to help with PTSD which was suddenly stopped and that seemed to cause almost as much stress as the original problem. He is having to get another referral from his GP. Nothing to do with stress and emotions is at all simple. I haven't really thought about it before but I should think that there are great similarities between bereavement and PTSD.

trueblue22 Fri 19-Jan-18 00:53:59

My husband also passed 8 months ago; suddenly, unexpectedly and in front of me.

I've had 1-2-1 counselling from a volunteer bereavement counsellor since August. It has helped me greatly, but I've also had to help myself.

At first I cried quite a lot on front of her and also had anger issues about how I was now on my own and also about a family member. She has helped me because she reflects back how I feel or questions why I feel a certain way.

At our last session, a few days ago, she felt we needed to think about winding down/ending out sessions. I tend to agree with her because I'm feeling quite strong...for now anyway. She can see how positive I've become and how much I'm doing to help myself move forward.

I think counselling helps to offload your issues, but it should be in the context of moving forward, or how to enable you to move forward.

MissAdventure Fri 19-Jan-18 00:55:20

That is how I feel. Traumatised. I have so many emotions, and so many things I have to get out, one way or another, they're all churning up inside me constantly. Its a huge things to experience a loved ones death. If I could tell someone all about it, then I feel I could start to heal.

WilmaKnickersfit Fri 19-Jan-18 02:51:09

Synonymous I think CBT has a lot going for it, but in recent years it's been portrayed as the best option for anyone needing support, especially through the IAPT initiative in England. That's supposed to be changing though to widen the range of therapy options. You can work with CBT online on your own and again this can be arranged through IAPT, although there's lots of great free resources online.

My personal opinion is CBT on its own isn't enough if you want to find out why you feel the way you do. CBT helps with your personal development and gives you coping strategies, but doesn't help with underlying issues. For example, I know that my problems are caused by the fact that I have conflicting core beliefs. Core beliefs are the very essence of how we see ourselves, other people, the world, and the future. We all develop our own core beliefs right from when we're children and these sit in the back of our minds, they're not something we think about. Problems can happen if a set of circumstances trigger more than one of our core beliefs and these particular beliefs conflict with each other. We're still not consciously thinking about the core beliefs, they just underpin how we feel. Then we may experience anxiety and depression.

I don't have any experience of PSTD, but I would think that CBT would need to be part of the treatment, but not the only treatment.

cornergran Fri 19-Jan-18 07:04:58

if you haven’t already it would be good to talk with your counsellor about your experiences appygran, bereavement brings so many often conflicting emotions and is so individual. Counselling should help you take control, not hinder it so an open discussion with your counsellor would be a good way forward.

CBT can help with many issues although it is not usually the first option with bereavement some aspects can be useful as time goes on. With any counselling approach it’s worth remembering that everyone is individual and it isn’t one size fits all. Wilma is right, IAPT was indeed widened to include other approaches. Having said that there is much variance in availability. I moved 45 miles, it’s the same mental health partnership, the availability is very different as the providers are different.

I’m sorry you haven’t been able to find counselling support missadventure, I wonder, is there a branch of CRUSE near to you? Their specialism is loss and bereavement and I would be amazed if they turned you away although with very new bereavement it can be suggested that the person wait a little while. I’m guessing your phone call was to your local NHS or IAPT service if the GP suggested it. If it was then if you can’t access CRUSE I would go back to the GP and ask for their support for a face to face assessment. Sometimes assessors simply get it wrong or it could be your local service isn’t set up for bereavement work. Please don’t give up.

My belief is PTSD can be approached via several different avenues. There is specialist trauma focused CBT, also DBT and EMDR as well as a more traditional counselling approach, doubtlessly more. The important thing is to be confident in the training of the therapist and their ability to understand the impact of trauma, also that their approach suits you as the client. Not easy that’s for sure.

kittylester Fri 19-Jan-18 07:19:30

Hi, I have no experience or knowledge but I didn't want to read and run so I'm sending you a hug. And for anyone else in need. flowers

Nana3 Fri 19-Jan-18 07:33:22

I had counselling after cancer treatment, it was helpful at first but after 3 sessions I'd said enough and felt like I was just repeating myself and I felt worse so I stopped going. I explained my feelings to the counsellor though.
appygran best wishes to you flowers.
Also flowers for MissAdventure trueblue22 and everyone bereaved.

Eglantine21 Fri 19-Jan-18 08:20:15

I don't agree with the "you'll feel worse before you feel better approach". Sometimes it can take a few sessions to get to the root of the problem, but if you can be honest with your counsellor then they can help very quickly.

I have had counselling twice. Once when my husband was very ill and I had hit rock bottom. She made all the difference in about twenty minutes. Just picked up my little crashed train and put it back on the rails.
The second time was after he died and that was a couple of sessions to enable me to acknowledge where the unshiftable pain actually lay.

If you feel you have had enough, the counselling has probably done all it can for the moment. No amount of counselling can take away the grief and pain of bereavement. I do sometimes think it's dished out as if it will.


mollie Fri 19-Jan-18 08:32:56

What type of counselling? Bereavement counselling or proper therapy type counselling (sorry, layman’s terms). The former (I used to be a bereavement counsellor) is an opportunity to talk and be guided through the grief process, the other sort deals with knotty problems. In my opinion grief is a natural process and shouldn’t be mixed up with other life issues. Of course some people do need that extra sort of help if the nature of the death throws up other problems.

On the other hand, being contentious and having worked with a variety of therapists over the years, some just like to keep the client coming back. If it isn’t working for you, stop and look for other help. Sometimes a good friend is just as helpful and with no axe to grind.

Jane10 Fri 19-Jan-18 08:32:58

I suppose that 'counselling' is only as good as the individual 'counsellor'. Although the approach may be standardised the person can't be.
Maybe you've gone as far as you can with this person? I agree that it would be well worth your while contacting CRUSE. They will have direct experience of helping people through all the various stages of painful grief and beyond. Remember that there is a beyond! Good

MawBroon Fri 19-Jan-18 08:45:07

I too have wondered whether counselling would be any help and have thought about asking those who have trodden this path before but recognise that we are all different. Many years ago I was a Sam and when my father died a Sam colleague would ring me once a week just to help me talk things through. Perversely, it didn’t have the desired effect and I became more introspective and depressed. What worked for me then was “parking”my grief or mentally putting it in a safe place and just getting on with my life. I was 16 years younger, still teaching and had plenty going on in my life.
This is different and losing ones life partner is not something to be “got through” is it? It is a whole life change and involves so many more layers of emotion apart from grief or loneliness, not to mention the practical issues.
I wonder if a counsellor could do any more than provide a crutch along the way and suspect that those who have lost their partners years ago would say you never “get over” it, just get used to it. People ask us how we are coping, don’t they? The fact that we can get out of bed says we are -after a fashion. What IS coping anyway?
All I would say is, go with your gut reaction, nobody can tell you how to feel.
Giving up the counselling may be another loss or it may be that you are ready to throw the crutch away and walk unaided.
Personally I never know how I will be feeling, it is not a continuum or upward progress. Some may expect me to be as fragile as I was just 10 weeks ago when paw died, others expect me to be “getting over” the early stages of grieving, but in my experience it is not a predictable path. Good days, bad days does not come close!
Good luck anyway!

Eglantine21 Fri 19-Jan-18 08:59:53

I thought it was like being on the seashore Maw. Sometimes you were ok paddling in the shallows and then a great big wave would come and knock you off your feet. But always, always in the sea, not on land like you were before, if you see what I mean.
All I can say is that the big waves come much less often now.

Alexa Fri 19-Jan-18 09:02:44

Appygran, your grief is understandable. I think that a proper counsellor will not help you to overcome your grief but will respect your grief as an honourable part of you. Grief is part of love . I respect your grief.
Moreover the hard emotional work of caring for a dying loved one means that you need time and rest to recover from that alone. As for the grief, do you really want to stop grieving altogether?

MawBroon Fri 19-Jan-18 09:04:37

Good analogy Eglantine it describes my feelings exactly! flowers

Luckygirl Fri 19-Jan-18 09:17:07

It might help if you spelt out your thoughts about how the counselling is going with the counsellor. He/she could then change direction if that is what is needed.

I go for counselling - used to be once a week, but now once a month - because I was sinking under all the ramifications of my OH's PD - he was having lots of mental symptoms which were bringing me down, paranoid delusional accusations etc. I did not want to discuss these and their effects in any detail with my family or friends, as it feels disloyal to him and embarrassing for him, so the opportunity to offload in a safe and confidential place has been very helpful.

In the course of the meetings we have at times veered off topic and she has helped me to see that I am really quite hard on myself - expecting too much - and that my outward confidence may not be as secure as it seems.

One thing that bereavement counselling might help with at a simple level, is having the chance to say how angry/sad/ overwhelmed etc. you feel to someone who is outside the situation and not themselves distressed by the loss. But I do understand that going over this again and again ceases to be productive at some point. Perhaps you could tell her this and ask her to focus more on the future.

I am sorry for your loss and send all warm wishes.

Jane10 Fri 19-Jan-18 09:18:21

Eglantine- beautiful analogy. I was once furious to be asked by a busybody 'friend' whether I was grieving properly! Actually the anger that made me feel was a nice change but I swiftly dumped such a useless 'friend'. There's no right and wrong here. Only feeling. Working out the best way to do that is such and individual thing.

Luckygirl Fri 19-Jan-18 09:19:45

By the way, one thing the counsellor is looking at with me is how I might feel if OH dies - I am finding it very helpful to have that out in the open and in a sense be making preparations for the inevitable.

Bellasnana Fri 19-Jan-18 09:21:32

appygran and trueblue, condolences on the sad loss of your DHs. Eight months is no time at all so you are bound to have difficult days with or without counselling.

Personally, when my DH was diagnosed with terminal cancer, almost four years ago, I fell apart. I couldn’t imagine how it would be possible to function on my own after 36 years together.

My doctor sent a counsellor from the Hospice to visit me at home. At first I was not very keen to be telling my feelings to a total stranger, but she was a lovely lady and listened patiently as I poured out my tale of woe. At the same time DH was diagnosed, my sister and two of his sisters were also suffering from terminal cancer, and I had already lost my other sister to it, so it felt like a family curse.

So, in answer to your question, I think conselling did help me, although I had it before , rather than after his death. He and his sisters died within eight months of each other, my darling sister made it until just over a year after my DH died.

I still have very tough days when all the counselling on earth wouldn’t help, but I try to cope as best I can.

I wish you, and all suffering from bereavement, the ability to get through one day at a time and appreciate the little steps forward, and be gentle wth yourselves when it all gets too much. flowers

TwiceAsNice Fri 19-Jan-18 09:36:51

I would recommend Cruse for bereavement counselling as an ex Cruse counsellor and trainer myself. I don't think CBT is terribly helpful as it is very solution focused and the one solution you would like and can't have is to have your loved one back. I think the best help comes if you really like your counsellor and you trust them. After 4 months you seem confused about where you are and whether it is helping or not. As a counsellor myself I think the counsellor needs to take some responsibility but can you let them know how you are feeling and I would hope they would look at any changes that could make it a better experience for you. Grief is really individual don't think you are doing it wrong, society is very unforgiving of grief and puts in place unrealistic expectations of the griever. It's good to let out your different feelings but it may be you have done enough of that for now and it would help more to look at how you can manage in the future but be kind to yourself it is not a race. Take care and I send you my sympathy and good wishes.

WilmaKnickersfit Fri 19-Jan-18 09:37:43

Bereavement counselling should help you with the feelings you experience after the loss. Those feelings of loss after a bereavement so individual and counselling gives you time to sit down with those feelings with someone who can guide you through coping with what can be an overwhelming amount of different emotions.

If anyone thinks it may be of help I suggest you contact Cruse, your local hospice and Mind. Your GP practice may have its own counsellors. You may have a local IAPT service. All offer bereavement counselling and other support services. All of these are free, but even other local charity counselling services which make a charge will take clients who can't pay or can only make a small donation.

Your GP reception should have a list of counselling services available in your local area or be able to give you the details of the local psychological therapies service.

Another alternative is online forums and sometimes just reading the experiences of others can help with your own feelings. One of the biggest is Bereavement UK.

There's a lot of help out there and you don't have to go through things alone and remember, you don't have to tell anyone else what you're doing. Also, sometimes it can be about finding out what's not helpful for you.

For me, counselling was a time and place separate from my everyday life where I could sit down with my feelings and have help from the counsellor to try to make sense of them. It helped me to cope better when I left that place to go back to my everyday life.