Articles

Ethical Considerations: Bereavement as a Therapist

As a counselling student, about to start my first placement hours, I am unexpectedly having to deal with the very real and painful loss of my grandmother. This year has been difficult and traumatic for so many people. We have shielded at home since March, but following a fall, my Grandmother ended up in hospital. The bleed on her brain was too great and she deteriorated with a week.

To explain the significance of this event on my life is challenging. I was close to my Grandmother, and the important thing to note is that she moved in with my family when I was 12. This meant she helped raise me through my teenage years, and has been a huge part of my life. She was 99 when she passed away, and it has hit my family like a steam train.

So why am I writing this. I think I’m trying to convince myself that I’m doing the right thing. I’ve decided not to defer my course (although I have that option). My Grandmother would hate me to lose momentum. So I’m going to honour that. However, I’ve decided to put off the start of my placement, at least until I’ve met with a supervisor a couple of times and the funeral is complete. I know that this is the ethical thing to do, and that it will ensure my own wellbeing. But most importantly, nothing will impact on my future clients.

Dealing with grief at this stage of my training and career was not something I was expecting. Maybe if Grandma had been sick it would have made more sense, but to die following a fall is just so unexpected. I’m not quite sure how to think or feel. I don’t know how long I should leave things. I feel OK, and actually quite focussed and able to ‘sit’ with clients and their emotions. But how will I feel in a week or a month?

Maybe I’m scared? I’m not sure. The only loved one that I’ve lost was my Grandad when I was 6 – I can’t remember it much. So this is impacted on me more. I work in her flat, so I’m close to her and her things. It makes it all ever present that she’s not here. But I’m honouring her too – I’m keeping her place clean and tidy, and Grandma hated waste. So by making use of her space in the house, I’m preventing waste.

I’m rambling, I know. I hope that once the funeral is over (today) things will begin to settle a little. All I can say is I miss her, and I hope I can keep doing her proud.

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