RedArc: bereavement counselling is only appropriate for 25% of grieving people

RedArc is warning employers and insurers that bereavement has many facets, and structured counselling is only one of a number of possible solutions for those affected, and should not be the default recommendation for dealing with bereavement. In RedArc’s experience, many employers and insurers typically offer bereavement counselling as their primary or sole solution for those who are grieving, but their research has found that it is not appropriate for everyone.

Bereavement can impact many areas, including sleep, anxiety, relationships and everyday life, and often  services other than counselling are more appropriate. In fact, the nurse-led wellbeing service has analysed client data and found that in 70% of cases other support was more beneficial. This includes practical support, signposting to specialist charities and self-help groups, and the provision of reliable reading materials and other resources. Only in 25% of cases was bereavement counselling also required, and complementary therapies in just a handful of cases.

Parents may be struggling to cope with their own grief as well as supporting their children through the loss of a family member, support needs to encompass this aspect too.

Christine Husbands commercial director for RedArc, said: “There appears to be a misconception that anyone who is bereaved needs bereavement counselling, grief is a normal human process following the death of someone close and not everyone needs bereavement counselling. For those experiencing bereavement, there is often a big benefit in being able to talk to someone outside of the individual’s circle of family and friends, but the most effective support needs to be much more holistic and longer term than just a short-term block of therapy. We have found that the dedicated support of a nurse is often all that’s required – who can provide the long-term support that’s needed, as well as signpost to additional support if appropriate.”

Specialist support groups

Researching and signposting towards trusted national and local specialist bereavement charities and support groups can be a key area of support. This can make a tangible difference to many as it allows interaction with like-minded people who have gone through similar experiences and provide a vital sense of community, whilst also mitigating feelings of isolation.

 Practical support

Following the death of a family member, partners and close family may need support with practical issues such as eldercare, childcare, returning to work, house clearance, dealing with a will and probate, etc.

 Trustworthy resources

Providing trusted reading material from a recognised source is also often invaluable. The internet is full of (mostly) well-meaning advice but not all is grounded in clinical expertise. During bereavement, individuals are particularly vulnerable and so being given reliable reading materials and other resources for adults and children, such as Apps, workbooks and factsheets can be a great help.

Complementary therapies

Complementary therapies such as massage, acupuncture or Reiki can also offer great comfort during bereavement and help with problems such as relaxation and sleeping.

 Long-term support

The default support offered by many for bereavement is often a block of six to eight, weekly counselling sessions, but RedArc’s data shows that on average, an individual needs bereavement support for 7 months, demonstrating the fact that counselling, if appropriate, needs to be embedded into a wider and longer programme of support. Even when an individual believes they have successfully dealt with their grief and does not need any further or immediate support, milestones such as anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas can reignite emotions, so support must be available over the long term.

Christine Husbands: “Many employers and insurers may find that individuals ask for bereavement counselling as this is widely understood and other types of support are lesser-known. However, at this particularly vulnerable time, an individual must be assessed on their particular needs and be given access to the most appropriate and proven type – or types – of support, which may include bereavement counselling but not necessarily.”