Grief Coach - What is it & should I get one?
Remember when hiring a life coach seemed like an oddball thing? I know I viewed the whole idea with cynicism when I first met one. But time and experience has taught me how valuable any type of coaching, guidance or support truly is.
Just like when I hired an endurance coach to complete the Coast to Coast Longest Day.
Or a running coach for five days running in the Wadi Rum desert in Jordan.
Or a writing coach to help break ground on my memoir.
Or a business coach to help get lift-off for my new business.
Of course, we COULD do it ourselves. We can all learn anything if we put our mind to it. But by golly it's a whole lot faster, simpler, and more fun with someone else who has your back.
You could say grief coaching is similar to life coaching, but VERY specific to grief and the unique challenges, nuances and complexities that come with that. The death of a loved one is possibly the toughest thing you've experienced in life so far. Grief can dismantle any beliefs we have around identity, security, safety, meaning, purpose, self-worth, self-confidence and self-trust.
It often impairs our ability to make decisions.
Many things that used to matter are no longer important.
It severely impacts our ability to show up fully in our day-to-day lives, let alone thrive.
These are all 'Big Things' that would be great to face with support, right?!
I call myself a grief coach (society loves a label/container) and it seems like the simplest way to describe what I do.
What I do is walk alongside you, share wisdom, help you get unstuck to take action and find your feet again. I empower you with tools, practices, and self-trust so you can walk confidently into your vision for life beyond the loss of your person. (Don’t know what your vision is? We can work on that together too.)
How is grief coaching different from counselling or therapy?
Firstly, let’s take a look at the functions, goals and outcomes of counselling or therapy:
- A focus on how you felt during the time surrounding your person’s death, unpacking the emotions and experience, and perhaps exploring unresolved issues.
- Offers tools to help you survive and find healthy coping mechanisms.
- Guides you through the phase of acute mourning and barely functioning to recovering and re-entering reality.
- Might address the emotional and spiritual aspects of the loss, making sense of the experience you’re enduring, and assist in managing symptoms that arise in your whole-being wellbeing.
- Especially valuable if the circumstances and/or experience was traumatic, or if encountering grief has triggered something else that may have already been lurking in the background.
And below is what it means to me to be a grief coach, with some contrasts to counselling and therapy included throughout. A grief coach:
- Walks alongside you with guidance, tools and support with a view to the future, while still honouring and remembering your person. What comes next in your life?
- Encourages you to set a vision, take actionable steps, explore mindset and behaviours, implement strategies, and hold you accountable - a lot like any other type of coach - but with a hearty serving of compassion, understanding and gentleness that is required for grief work.
- Individualised and bespoke plans and strategies that deeply align with each griever’s journey, experience, circumstance and capacity - instead of following clinical steps or processes.
- Focus on personal growth and ways you can develop a new relationship with your grief so you can rebuild and thrive.
- Anyone who has become a grief coach usually does so as a result of their own experiences, while mental health professionals are often trained to cover a broader range of mental wellbeing challenges. Some will have personal experience specific to grief, others won't (yet). I’m a firm believer that when it comes to grief, no amount of study can replace the learning gained from life experience.
- Grief isn't actually a mental illness (although it can definitely fuel and morph into something you'll find in the DSM) so you don't necessarily need to employ a mental health professional to help you "fix it". When you're ready to press play on your life again and rediscover what a vibrant, purposeful life means to you, a grief coach may be a more appropriate avenue of support to explore.
I see grief coaching as a complement to counselling or therapy, and ultimately only you will be able to discern which is right for you right now.
Which leads me to this - me being a grief coach doesn't make me an expert in your grief. Only YOU are an expert in your grief. Our coaching relationship is a two-way thing, and I’m always reminding folks that I'm here to learn from you too.
My unique approach to grief coaching
I've designed a framework that is spacious and flexible enough to be customised to your needs. There are no stages, no step-by-step process that renders you "back to normal".
I know that doesn’t work, I've been there. Instead, it’s bespoke and tailored to each individual.
My unique approach includes the body and nervous system in the equation and a trauma-aware lens. Our body is a store for all our previous emotions and experiences - some of it becomes stuck and creates unhelpful behaviours and patterns. We all reach a point where no amount of effort from our thinking brain will help us work through grief.
To explore more techniques & tools for grieving consciously in today's world, get in touch. Book your free, zero-obligation, 30-minute Clarity Call to learn how I can support you.