Bereavement and Grief Counselling in Edinburgh

Welcome to Edinburgh Therapy Service, where we offer evidence-based therapy approaches to support those facing the challenges of grief. You don’t need to navigate these difficult moments on your own; we’re here to assist you in accepting your loss and progressing forward. Continue reading to explore our approach to grief counselling and how we can be of assistance.


What is bereavement?

Bereavement is the emotional and psychological response to the loss of someone or something we hold dear. Grief, in turn, is the natural process through which we navigate this loss, adjusting to a world that has been forever altered.


In its simplest form, bereavement can be defined as the state of being deprived of a loved one through death. However, it goes far beyond a mere dictionary definition, encompassing a complex range of emotions and reactions that surface in response to this loss.


There is a crucial distinction between healthy grieving and grief that becomes stagnant. Healthy grief allows us to mourn, adapt, and eventually find a way to move forward with our lives. Conversely, stuck grief can trap individuals in a state of perpetual sorrow, hindering their ability to heal. Getting stuck could be due to various reasons, for example, the suddenness of the loss, the absence of a support system, or an inability to process the emotions associated with the loss. 


Healthy grief is not a fixed state but a dynamic process. It comprises moments of sadness, anger, guilt, and even relief. It acknowledges the pain of loss while allowing for the possibility of growth and acceptance. It is not a linear path but rather a series of stages that vary from person to person.


Grief is a deeply personal experience, and its emotional landscape can be intense and unpredictable. It may manifest as waves of sadness, longing, or anger. Physical symptoms such as fatigue, changes in appetite, and sleep disturbances are also common. Each person’s grief journey is unique.

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Our therapists are qualified and registered with reputable professional associations for psychotherapy and counselling.

When to seek help for grief?

Grief is a profoundly individual journey, and its timeline is highly unique for each person. Many individuals tend to navigate through phases such as acceptance, feeling their loss, adapting to a life without their loved one, and forming new connections within a year. However, if more time has passed since your loss and you find yourself unable to progress through these phases or if typical signs of grief not only fail to improve but also worsen within the initial few months, it might be an indication of complicated grief. Advancing through grief doesn’t signify a definitive endpoint, nor does it entail the complete disappearance of the sense of loss. Instead, it signifies a gradual reduction in the intensity of symptoms over time.


For some individuals, the intensity of their grief remains unabated, presenting significant hurdles in carrying out daily tasks. This can manifest as difficulties in attending work, fulfilling parental responsibilities, or engaging in social interactions with friends.


Symptoms of complicated grief

Some key indicators of complicated grief encompass:


➤   Persistent and enduring emotional pain that remains unalleviated even with the passage of a reasonable amount of time.


➤   Persistent preoccupation and ongoing difficulty in redirecting your thoughts away from the loss.


➤   Oscillating between fixating excessively on reminders of your lost loved one and making extreme efforts to avoid those reminders.


➤   An enduring struggle to come to terms with the fact that someone has passed away.


➤   Experiencing a profound sense of purposelessness or a lack of meaning in life.


➤   Finding it exceedingly challenging to engage in normal activities and complete daily routines.


➤   Becoming increasingly isolated from social interactions and withdrawing from friends and family.


➤   Encountering thoughts of wishing you had died along with your loved one and contemplating suicide.


➤   Feeling a sense of responsibility and guilt for the death, believing that you could have done something to prevent it.

Counselling for grief

Complicated grief and bereavement can be emotionally overwhelming journeys. In these challenging times, the incorporation of third-wave therapies such as acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), compassion-focused therapy (CFT), and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) emerges as a powerful ally.


These therapeutic approaches introduce mindfulness, self-compassion, and acceptance as primary elements, providing invaluable tools to navigate the path towards ultimately moving forward with grief.


ACT for grief 

Grief is an unavoidable and deeply painful experience. To reach the other side of this emotional journey, one must confront and accept the pain rather than resist it. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) provides a unique approach to coping with grief and loss.


In the context of grieving, ACT encourages people to accept their emotions without judgment, allowing the natural process of mourning to unfold. It emphasizes being fully present in the moment, and practising mindfulness to navigate the complexities of grief. Additionally, ACT explores the broader perspective of self, helping individuals identify and align with their core values. This values-driven approach guides purposeful actions that honour the memory of the deceased and contribute to a meaningful and resilient journey through grief.


Here you can read more about ACT for grief.



Self-compassion for grief

When facing the emotional turbulence of grief, elements of compassion-focused therapy (CFT) can also have a profound impact, and it can nicely be implemented along with ACT. One of its primary functions is to reduce self-criticism. Grief can stir up feelings of self-blame and harsh self-judgement. In such moments, self-compassion gently guides individuals towards self-kindness and understanding, counteracting the impulse to condemn oneself for the loss or any associated emotions.


Self-compassion also serves as a powerful validator of emotions. It reminds individuals that grief is a natural response to loss, reinforcing the idea that it’s entirely acceptable to experience the pain and sadness that grief entails. This validation reduces the internal struggle to suppress these intense emotions and encourages individuals to embrace the painful emotions that grief often brings, which aligns perfectly with the work done in ACT. 


Furthermore, it offers a comforting presence, providing self-soothing and solace, akin to having a compassionate friend within. This internal emotional support can be immensely comforting and reassuring during times of grief.


Ultimately, self-compassion facilitates healing. It guides individuals through grief with heightened self-awareness and self-kindness, allowing them to navigate the emotional terrain and gradually move towards acceptance. 

Our approach to grief counselling

In our practice, specialising in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), compassion-focused therapy (CFT), and mindfulness-based therapy (MBCT), we often turn our attention to ACT when it comes to addressing grief. We also integrate various aspects of self-compassion and mindfulness into this approach. Our belief is rooted in the idea that the relentless avoidance of unpleasant feelings can, paradoxically, intensify our suffering. This is especially evident in the context of grief, where pain is an inevitable part of the experience.


Too often, we try to fix, suppress, or distract ourselves from grief, never allowing ourselves to fully feel it. However, these efforts can amplify our pain. If we were to shift our perspective, acknowledging that pain is not inherently “bad,” and if we were to accept our grief, its intensity becomes more manageable. Thus, we are passionate about the power of ACT to guide our clients towards a more constructive way of dealing with grief. The promise of this approach is the capacity to move towards a rich and meaningful life even amid grief.


At the same time, we consider mindfulness a cornerstone of our approach, helping individuals become fully present, allowing their feelings to surface, and breaking free from the cycle of rumination. We also incorporate self-compassion into our therapeutic toolkit, particularly when clients grapple with feelings of guilt during the bereavement process.


Recognizing that each individual’s grief journey is unique, we adapt our treatments to suit their specific needs. When necessary, we also draw upon the principles of CBT.


We understand the immense difficulty of the grieving process, particularly the challenge of accepting the pain. While this acceptance may appear insurmountable initially, we approach it by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks.


Our practice offers a supportive, empathetic, and compassionate space where individuals can unburden themselves from the weight they carry. We are here to listen, support, and guide you through your unique journey of grief.


Do you offer grief counselling near me?

The Edinburgh Therapy Service offers both in-person grief counselling in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, and convenient online therapy accessible worldwide You can find our exact location here.

The Edinburgh Therapy Service is a psychotherapy and counseling practice based in Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom). We offer therapy both in-person in Edinburgh and online, available in English and Spanish.

Contact info

Contact us for more information or to book your first appointment: [email protected]