Undergoing a loss is always a challenging situation to manage, even when expected. Afterwards, you realise that everything you thought you knew about grief is quickly shadowed by the mix of emotions and behaviours that you experience.
As time passes, many people learn to come to terms with their loss and cope with their grief. However, others struggle to navigate grief and its effects on their mental, physical and emotional health for long periods.
Fortunately, grief counselling in Australia is a safe and effective way to help you come to terms with your loss, cope with your grief and get your life back on track.
What is grief?
Grief is a natural response to all types of loss. You can experience the loss of a loved one, pregnancy, pet or feel the loss from someone else's loss. It’s also common for people to experience grief at the loss of something without there being a death.
This grief can express itself in various ways that can affect almost every part of your life, including your emotions, thoughts, physical health, relationships and sense of self.
How does grief work?
Grief can leave you feeling many different things: sad, angry, anxious, shocked, regretful, relieved, overwhelmed, isolated, irritable or numb. Generally, these emotions will correspond with the circumstances of your loss.
For example, the loss of a loved one due to old age might receive a different reaction than the unexpected death of a child. However, no matter the type of loss, you can still experience all seven stages of grief. Grief can also manifest in thoughts, behaviours and physical symptoms.
These feelings can quickly become overwhelming, but there are services to help you navigate your grieving experience.
What is grief counselling?
Grief counselling, also known as bereavement counselling, is designed to help children and families cope with the loss of a loved one. During grief therapy, a grief counsellor will help you develop strategies and coping techniques.
In addition, grief counselling provides bereaved people with an avenue to discuss their feelings and emotions to alleviate the grieving process. You should consider grief counselling if a loss or grief is causing any of the following issues:
- Daily activities such as caring for children or working are hard to manage
- You experience feelings of guilt or depression
- You find it difficult to carry on with life
- You find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep for an extended period of time
- You’re noticing that your grief is causing problems in current relationships
Grief counselling services in Australia
If you are going through a loss and experiencing grief, grief counselling services in Australia can help you navigate your thoughts, behaviours, and physical symptoms. Below is a list of organisations that offer bereavement support and grief counselling.
National bereavement support
Griefline: Griefline provides free and confidential counselling to people experiencing grief and loss across Australia. This includes remote, regional, rural and metropolitan regions. Their helpline operates seven days a week (6 am to midnight AEST).
Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement: The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement Counselling provides online, telephone and face-to-face bereavement counselling to individuals, children and families who need assistance following the death of a loved one. They are funded by the Victorian state government and provide free bereavements support for Victorians.
MyGrief App: The MyGrief app is by the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement and provides information, tools and resources and practical tools for families and friends on how best to support someone after a loss. They offer 24/7 support, and it’s available for Android and iOS users.
SANDS: SANDS supports bereaved parents through miscarriages and infant and child death. They offer national services across Australia and a 24/7 bereavement support line at 1300 308 307. The organisation also holds regular workshops to help parents with grief and loss.
Red Nose Grief and Loss: Formerly known as SIDS and Kids, Red Nose Grief and Loss provides support for families who experience the unexpected death of an infant or child. You can explore their support library or call the 24/7 support line at 1300 308 307.
New South Wales Bereavement Services
National Association for Loss and Grief: NALAG is an independent, not-for-profit charity formed after the Granville Train Disaster in 1977. They provide free grief and loss support services across NSW via telephone or face to face support and counselling.
Bereavement Care Centre: The BCC offers bereavement counselling and support services for the terminally ill and their families and those recently bereaved.
Victoria Bereavement Services
The Compassionate Friends Victoria: TCFV offers bereavement support for grieving parents, siblings and grandparents in the event of the death of a child from any cause and at age. They offer a wide range of services and programs to help parents and siblings through grief.
Very Special Kids: Very Special Kids bereavement support program offers emotional support and counselling for families who have experienced a child's death. They also provide respite, end of life, and after-death care. You can learn more about their bereavement services by calling the support line on (03) 9804 6253.
Mercy Grief Services: MGS is a specialist bereavement counselling service that helps individuals and families in western metropolitan Melbourne experiencing complicated grief issues following the death of a significant person.
Hope Bereavement Care: Hope is a not-for-profit organisation based in Geelong. They offer free information, support, and counselling for those grieving the death of a child, an adult's unexpected death and those experiencing loss after suicide.
Queensland Grief Counselling
The Compassionate Friends: CF provides support for families grieving the death of a child of any age, from any cause. They offer face-to-face or telephone support at most locations across the state.
Centacare: Centacare is a catholic organisation that provides counselling services in Brisbane for families dealing with various issues, including grief and loss.
Coronial Counselling Service: The CCS is part of Queensland Health Forensic that provides support and information for families whose loved one’s death is being investigated by the Coroner. Counsellors of the CCS can provide support for the following:
- The process when a coroner is investigating a death
- Autopsy examinations
- Referrals to local support groups and services
- Support during identification and viewings
StandBy: StandBy QLD is a community-based program that provides support and assistance for people who are bereaved by suicide, including individuals, families, friends, associates, witnesses, communities, schools and workplaces.
Northern Territory Grief and Loss Support
Suicide Bereavement Support: The government of the Northern Territory provides a complete list of agencies that provide support and counselling for those bereaved by sudden death or suicide.
Western Australia Bereavement Support
The Grief Centre of Western Australia: TGC of Western Australia provides grief counselling and support for people experiencing grief from any type of loss.
Compassionate Friends Western Australia: CF in WA provides support for families grieving the death of a child at any age, from any cause. They offer face-to-face or telephone support for those in Western Australia.
Solace Grief Support WA: Solace Grief Support in WA supports those who are grieving the loss of a partner, spouse or fiancee. They facilitate healthy grieving under the guidance of support persons who have all survived the death of a loved one.
South Australia Grief Counselling
Bereavement counselling SA: The South Australia community website provides a complete list of bereavement counselling services and support across the state.
Tasmania Grief Counselling
The Trauma and Grief Network: TTGN connects people to resources focused on the care of children and teens affected by trauma, loss and grief.
Bereavement Care Network Tasmania: BCNT is a network that links grief counsellors to those who need help across the state of Tasmania.
Other Bereavement Support
Beyondblue: BeyondBlue offers free one-on-one counselling services over the phone. You can contact their service at 1300 22 4636 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Canberra Grief Centre: CGC offers grief counselling services to support grief, bereavement and trauma due to a loss.
Kids Help Line: Free counselling for kids aged 5 - 25, 24/7
Mens Help Line: Professional support and advice for men. They can be called on 1300 789 978, 24/7
Relationships Australia provides free information and support for grief and loss.
The Cancer Council also provides support for families who lose someone to cancer. Palliative care is available in your state or territory for assistance with bereavement resources and services to assist through the loss of a loved one.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
How to start grief counselling
Deciding to start grief counselling is not easy - especially when you’re in the process of grieving, so it’s understandable that you might be sceptical. However, you don’t need to reach unbearable levels of grief to reach out for support.
It can help to use bereavement services if you need space to process your emotions or discuss the loss without judgement. When looking for counselling services, consider if you need a counsellor who specialises in a specific type of loss, such as the loss of a child or death by suicide.
Finally, grief doesn’t have a timeline and comes in all shapes and sizes. There is no rush to process the loss you’re going through, and the resources provided in this guide are a great place to start if you’re looking for help to process all types of grief.