When to seek to help

When to seek to help

Here are some things to know that might help you decide when or if you should seek additional help or support in dealing with a loss.

Allow yourself some time after the death before deciding if you need help. The way we react at the time of a death may or may not be indicators of how we are doing. It’s usually some time after the funeral and/or memorial gathering is over and friends and loved ones have returned to their homes that the loss starts to “sink in”. It is at this point that we are better able to assess our needs and know whether we could use additional support.

Deaths by suicide and deaths of babies and children create challenging complications to the grieving and healing process. If you are a survivor of a suicide or a bereaved parent, it is probably a good idea to “check in” with someone who is capable of helping you find and stay on a healing path.

There can be many reasons for wanting or needing to seek help. Challenges to our grieving and healing can result from a variety of circumstances and reasons. Here are some that I have encountered over the years:

Sudden or unexpected deaths which leave no chance for a “goodbye” or a way to deal with something “unfinished”.

  • Where the nature of the death has a stigma or taken a large toll on the survivor (AIDS, murder, Alzheimer’s…).
  • When the death is perceived as unnecessary or unfair.
  • Where it is evident a bereaved person has inadequate support (i.e.: no family/friends) or inadequate coping skills.
  • Where there has been an excessively dependent or conflicted relationship with one who has died.
  • Where a previous significant loss has not been grieved.
  • Where a person has had multiple losses over a short time.

Where there was no funeral or memorialization or where the person most affected by the death was not involved in the funeral arrangement.

The best person to determine your need to seek help is you. A simple question to ask and answer in making that decision is: “Am I feeling a need for some help in dealing with this loss?”.

Ken Westereng (B.A., M. Div.)

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