Grief Services

The meaning of Grief:

Commonly asked questions about grief

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How long will this go on?

The journey through grief is a highly individual experience. Rather than focus on a timeline it is perhaps more helpful to focus on its intensity and duration. Initially grief is overwhelming and people can feel out of control. With time people find they have more ability to choose when they access memories and emotions. The intensity of grief is related to the degree of attachment to the person, relationship to the deceased, level of understanding and social support from others, personality and the nature of the bereavement.

Am I going mad?

It may certainly feel like it at times! Particularly if the individuals need to grieve is out of step with social and cultural expectations. Grief affects people physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. People may be required to make adjustments to their lives and learn new skills, at a time when they feel least able to do so. Receiving validation and permission to grieve is important in the recovery and healing process.

Do I have the right to inflict this on others?
What can I expect of them and they of me?

Others may feel intensely uncomfortable with the emotion and the pain of the bereaved to the point of feeling helpless. The anxiety this causes may mean that the bereaved person might feel they are being avoided - increasing feelings of isolation. It is important that the grieving person is assertive about their needs and wishes, and it is helpful if they communicate with family, friends, and colleagues rather than leave them guessing about what would be useful and comforting. Never underestimate the power of listening and being a warm presence. There are no magic words or actions. Trust your ability to care taking into account your relationship with the person you are trying to help.

Is there a right way and a wrong way of coping with grief?

People are individuals with personalities and life experiences, which influence the way in which they deal with grief. People's style of grieving must be respected and in this sense there is no right or wrong way of coping. However it is generally believed that the amount of support people receive can ameliorate some of the impact of grief and facilitate recovery. People often have an awareness about what they need to do to feel better but feel inhibited or judged and don't act on their inclinations. Talking about what is happening, what they are going through, expressing emotion and being in a supportive and accepting climate is generally helpful. Both religious and cultural factors may impact upon a persons feelings of "right" or "wrong ways" to deal with their grief.

How do I know when I need help?

Reassurance from others who have also experienced grief and an understanding of what people have commonly undergone when grieving can be a helpful yardstick. Any continued fears or anxieties about your well being or thoughts of self-harm should be addressed by seeking help. Prolonged intense emotion or obsessional thought or behaviour that make functioning difficult may also require help.

Stages of grief

Grief does not follow a linear pattern. It is more like a roller coaster, two steps forward and one step back. Ultimately people manage to integrate the experience to the point of having a new life arising from the old. The loss remains and is always remembered, but the intensity is no longer disabling or disorganising.

Much of grieving is about expressing emotion- some may be unfamiliar, and unacceptable to self or others, e.g. anger, guilt, remorse. Finding a safe place and an accepting person for support to work through all the effects of bereavement is important. The amount of support available from family and friends may be limited if they too are grieving. Misunderstandings can arise when people experience different responses to a shared loss. External supports may then become a vital factor in understanding and expressing your grief. It is important to know that you can survive the experience and that the new life that eventually comes about may have very positive effects despite the difficulty of arriving at this point.

Does counselling help?

It is important to say that grief is a normal response to loss and that people work through the loss with the loving support of family and friends. However, for a variety of reasons it may be necessary to seek professional help in the form of counselling. Counselling may initially intensify painful feelings as the external distractions are removed, and the client is able to focus on their experiences and explore them fully. People who are grieving may need to talk about their story over and over again and are often concerned about the 'wear out' factor on family and friends, especially if details are very distressing. Equally they may find that others have unrealistic expectations of their recovery or experiences. Where people have to continue on in roles as parents or carers counselling may provide valuable time-out for their own need to grieve and receive support. A supportive, safe and accepting environment and time set aside regularly can make a great difference. It may provide comfort and hope at a time of great confusion and crisis.

Bereavement Support Services
Bereavement Counselling and Support Service 9265 2111
Coronial Services Centre 9684 4444
Counselling & Support 9684 4395
Griefline 9935 7400
SIDS and Kids Victoria 9822 9611
1800 240 400
SANDS 9899 0218
Road Trauma Support Team 9877 7922
1300 367 797
Compassionate Friends 9888 4944
1800 641 091
Support After Suicide 9427 9899
Mercy Western Grief Services 9364 9838
Industrial Deaths Support & Advocacy 9309 4453
Creative Ministries Network 9827 8322
Mirabel Foundation 9523 9693
NALAG (National Association for Loss and Grief) 9650 3000
Very Special Kids 9804 6222
Victims Support Agency 1800 819 817
Bereaved parents and families support:
The Compassionate Friends 1800 641 091
SIDS & Kids 1800 240 400
SANDS 9899 0218
Other Helplines
Lifeline 13 11 14
Suicide Helpline 1300 651 251
Mensline 1300 789 978
Kids Help Line 1800 551 800
Carers Victoria 1800 242 636
Further Information
Bereavement Counselling and Support Service
Address: Ground Floor, McCulloch House,
Monash Medical Centre,
246 Clayton Road, Clayton ViC 3168
Phone: (03) 9265 2111 (Monday Friday)
Facsimile: 03 9265 2150
Web Address: