Is bereavement counselling helpful?

Discussion in 'After dementia — dealing with loss' started by Chaucer, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. Chaucer

    Chaucer Registered User

    Jun 16, 2015
    17
    Hello all,

    This is my first post on this forum. My mum died earlier this year after contracting pneumonia, she was very poorly in hospital and I was with her when she died (Which was quite traumatic in itself). She'd had Alzheimers for about 5 or 6 years and had spent the last couple of years in a home, after my dad was unable to cope. The whole experience was extremely upsetting, as you will all know. My lovely, calm, mild mannered mum became a violent, unhappy and angry person - from trying to hurt my dad physically to saying some awful things, I remember her screaming at me that she wasn't my mother!

    As many of you will understand, things got stressful within the family too and relationships were put under strain among my siblings. I find now, a few months on, that I still try and keep away from them, and minimise contact. I felt really upset after the funeral and sometimes I feel totally exhausted and drained - I think this symptom concerns me the most as I'm usually busy and active. I can feel ok for a while and then I'll have a week when I need to just lay down in the afternoon and rest my body. I do have a young child too and husband so quite a busy lifestyle.

    Does anyone else feel the tiredness and emotional stress? It is only a few months since mum died but I wonder if talknig to someone would help, although I'm worried that if I start talking about it, I'll cry and never stop!

    Any experiences would be welcomed. Many thanks!
     
  2. Soobee

    Soobee Registered User

    Aug 22, 2009
    2,734
    South
    Yes I found general counselling helpful about the whole situation, and although I only saw a bereavement counsellor a couple of times it seemed to be enough to help me come to terms with my feelings.

    I recommend giving it a try - if you don't think it's helpful then you can stop any time.
     
  3. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    1,051
    GLASGOW
    I spoke to a counselling service by phone after my Dad died. It was a benefit my company provided. Maybe you need to unload and cry it all out.

    I also wrote a letter saying all the things I never did and tied it to a balloon. Its symbolic but it helped me a great deal.

    Don't rule out physical causes as well. If you were under a lot of stress you might have not been eating so well. Why not also try some multi-vitamins with iron for a month and buy a relaxation CD to listen to before bed. I got a great one which I listen to when driving. It calms me down so when I get home I feel much better! Mine has rain and wind sounds so a toilet trip before driving is essential.

    Be kind to yourself and take care of yourself. You have been through a terrible ordeal. Don't set yourself high expectations of when you should be feeling better. Find a good photo of your Mum and look back at the happy times and talk to your Dad about those days. He is still here. Let him know what those happy days mean to you while you still can.
    Love Quilty
     
  4. Chaucer

    Chaucer Registered User

    Jun 16, 2015
    17
    Thank you, you are right, I could try it and see if it helps.
     
  5. Chaucer

    Chaucer Registered User

    Jun 16, 2015
    17
    Thank you. Yes i think a good cry would be great! I eat pretty well, I didn't for a while, but I'm a good 5 a day girl! Walking lots too. Not sure about a relaxation tape while driving, but I do meditate most days.
    You are wise in your words about expectations though, I want to feel better now! Sadly, I can't talk to my Dad. He literally comes around and talks AT me for hours, I hardly say a word. It's always been the same. He tells my intricate detail of all his life and never asks about ours. That makes me so incredibly sad.
     
  6. Quilty

    Quilty Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    1,051
    GLASGOW
    Another thing the coach suggested for me was a gratitude journal. I had to find 3 things every day I was grateful for and write them down in a special notebook. Some days it was hard and I struggled but when I looked back I started to see what really mattered. My children laughing. A perfectly roasted chicken. A cup of tea when I got home from work. Strong legs that worked well.

    May try that too? Last January I did it with the kids. We found one thing each day that made us happy and took a photo with our phone and sent it to each other. So much better than the guilt of a New Year resolution! Again, it helps you remember the small things that make life wonderful if you stop and consider.

    Love
    Quilty
     
  7. Carabosse

    Carabosse Registered User

    Jan 10, 2013
    1,693
    Hello Chaucer, sorry to hear about your mum.
    I lost my mum just over a year ago, though it feels like yesterday. I went through counselling with Cruse, in a way it helped but in another it didn't.
    At the time when talking to the counsellor everything that was said made perfect sense, but then when you are on your own your mind starts to think of what was said and you ask yourself more questions, which in my case makes me feel worse. There were times when something was said and I thought 'how dare you', I never said anything but at times I questioned myself whether it was doing me any good?

    The only thing I can suggest is try it and see how you get on. I have a thread on this section of the forum if you care to read it, it might help?
     
  8. NZ2015#

    NZ2015# Registered User

    Jun 9, 2015
    11
    Hi Chaucer,

    My mum died on 23 May, of Alzeimer's. For the past 5 years she could be OK one minute, in floods of tears the next and most of the time, totally confused. More recently she had become verbally and physically aggressive, especially to the care home staff.
    When she had to go into hospital at New Year 2013 and from there into a care home, she told me she hated me - I can still see her face when she said it.
    Her last 5 days before she died were awful - anger, confusion and such a look of fear on her face.
    It is not just the fact that she has gone that I am having trouble with, it is how she went.
    I have arranged counselling through work. I received an half an hour phone interview last week to take down my details so that I could be allocated a counsellor. I cried all the way through the call but the interviewer was very good (except when she told me to "have a nice day" at the end of the call - more training required methinks!)
    I have my first session with a counsellor next Monday.
    I know I will get very upset but there are things that I want to tell him that I have not told anyone else - images of mum that I cannot get out of my head and things over the years that I feel guilty about (could I have done more to help???)
    It's not long since mum passed away and yet, already, people do not want to go into the level of detail that I need to deal with some of the issues I have
    That's why I am going to give the counselling a go.
    If you like, I can let you know how it goes on Monday


     
  9. NZ2015#

    NZ2015# Registered User

    Jun 9, 2015
    11
    Yes, I too feel absolutely physically shattered on occasions. I feel "ill" but cannot describe it.
    Some days I can't stop crying, others I can't cry at all and feel numb.
    I am better at home for some reason. When I am out it feels like I am inside a bubble separated from the real world. Horrible feelings


     
  10. J2e

    J2e Registered User

    Apr 24, 2015
    27
    Brighton
    Im on holiday next week and this is one of the things I plan to do. Write a letter to both of my parents telling them what I'm grateful to them for, what I'm sorry for, etc. I'm then going to burn it and scatter the ashes into the sea. That's the plan anyway!

    Jx
     
  11. J2e

    J2e Registered User

    Apr 24, 2015
    27
    Brighton
    I've been doing this for a couple of months now. I find it really helps me to tune into the positives and not dwell on the sadness quite so much. I recommend giving it a go

    Jx
     
  12. J2e

    J2e Registered User

    Apr 24, 2015
    27
    Brighton
    I had 6 sessions of bereavement counselling after loosing Mum. It was apparently very early to be having counselling at 8 weeks. I did find it helpful but I wish my counsellor had some dementia experience as some of my feelings related more to the disease and the gradual loss of Mum over the previous 13 years than the final loss.

    It is now 19 weeks since Mum died. Some days are ok. Some are wobbly. It often depends on how tired I am as to how well I cope. I've got sleeping tablets from the GP to try and smooth things out a bit. I guess what I'm saying is that it is early days. Do what feels right. I've tried lots of things and anything that helps - like the gratitude journal - I've continued and anything that doesn't - staying in bed and shutting myself off from others - I've tried to avoid.

    Be kind to yourself
    Jx
     
  13. Adcat

    Adcat Registered User

    Jun 15, 2014
    289
    London
    Hi Chaucer,

    Your post really resonates with me. My mother died in 2012. Sibling relations broke down. Dad developed dementia and now I'm a carer. Siblings still awful. I went through the full gambit of emotions. The tiredness was indescribable. I would thoroughly recommend counselling. It's a safe place to talk about your feelings and emotions to give you head space. To give you an analogy, think of the U bend of a sink or toilet. Flush the chain or put water down the sink and you clear the U bend. Counselling can help flush out or the negative stuff to assist you in getting back on track to live your life with or without your siblings.

    Take care
     
  14. Chaucer

    Chaucer Registered User

    Jun 16, 2015
    17
    My goodness, I could have written some of this word for word. It's such a comfort to hear that other people have these experiences and we are not alone. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond and so honestly. I'm so sorry about your mum and it's so recent, too. I would be interested to know how the counselling goes, thank you. I hope it helps. Like you, part of what stops me is that I don't think I'll stop crying, I don't cry much about mum directly, just about other things.

    My mum too went from kind and gentle, to violent and angry. She told me on many occasions to "get out" and shouted at me once that she wasn't my mother. She threw hot coffee at me and on her first night in the home, she got into another bedroom and smashed a window with a vase. Hundreds of other examples. Like you, there are images and conversations I can't let go, and I wish for mum , that her final years could have been happier.

    I hope Monday works out well for you x
     
  15. Chaucer

    Chaucer Registered User

    Jun 16, 2015
    17
    Thank you, very interesting and kind of you to share your experience. This week is hard as my daughter has an ear infection so i feel shut off from the world!
     
  16. Chaucer

    Chaucer Registered User

    Jun 16, 2015
    17
    Thank you, very poignant and helpful. The tiredness is indescribable, especially as I'm looking after my ill kid at the moment! I'm craving a spa day, so will take myself off when things are better here. I'm craving that safe place, i hope i click with the therapist.
     
  17. Chaucer

    Chaucer Registered User

    Jun 16, 2015
    17
    Nz2015

    How did you find your counselling NZ2015?

    Bereavement is odd. I can have a few good weeks or days, then my body seems to shut down a bit and need a rest. I'm currently on a run of having 30 mins lay down before I go and collect my daughter from primary school. Never felt tiredness like it. But then I'll have a few good days again.

    I have contacted a counsellor and seeing her next week, I hope it hleps to talk and doesn't make it worse.
     

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