Grief is our response to change and loss, and is experienced by everyone at some stage in life. The death of a loved one is a difficult experience. Grief counselling and support services are available throughout Victoria. Specialist services are also available, including services offering support after the loss of a baby or child, suicide bereavement, a violent crime (homicide) or road trauma (car accident).
Grief is our response to loss. Everyone will experience loss at some stage in life. The death of a loved one is a particularly difficult experience for many people.
Grief support services provide counselling, support and education to bereaved individuals and families. The opportunity to talk things over with a trained counsellor can help you make sense of your feelings.
Grief can be triggered by different experiences
The death of a family member, friend or other close person can trigger grief.
A number of other experiences can also cause feelings of loss and grief. These experiences might include:
- separation, divorce or relationship breakdown
- loss of possessions through disaster or theft
- children leaving home
- the adoption or relinquishment of children
- unemployment, retrenchment or retirement
- death of a pet
- infertility, stillbirth, miscarriage or abortion
- the loss of a person who is missing.
Support is important when you're grieving
People who are well supported by family and friends are less likely to suffer poor health as a consequence of bereavement and loss. However, some grieving people may also benefit from professional grief support and counselling.
Bereavement counselling for grief
Grief support services provide counselling, support and education to bereaved individuals and families. The opportunity to talk things over with other a trained counsellor can help you make sense of your feelings.
Counsellors can offer you encouragement, support and advice through the grieving process. They will not tell you what to do or how you should be feeling, but they may put forward ideas and strategies to help you cope.
Support can help you cope with grief
Grief support services aim to:
- assist and guide people through the grieving process
- help with complicated grief issues to prevent physical and mental health problems occurring.
Support is available in most communities
Community organisations, agencies and groups are often involved in grief support services. These organisations may include:
- hospitals and community health centres
- palliative care agencies
- volunteer groups
- church and religious organisations.
Specialist services for grief
There is a range of specialist grief support services available. For example, if you have experienced the death of a child or baby, assistance is available from SIDS and Kids or SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support).
There are also grief support groups for families of people who have taken their own life, victims of homicide and people experiencing trauma as a result of road accidents. Sometimes specialist services are established in response to a particular traumatic event or disaster such as a bushfire or flood.
Services for children who are grieving
Children can experience loss and grief from a very young age. Their feelings might be triggered by the death of a parent or close relative, family separation, the death or loss of a pet or many other situations.
The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB) is funded by the Victorian Government to provide a statewide Specialist Bereavement Service for individuals and families who need help following the death of someone close to them. This service operates throughout Victoria, and provides a range of bereavement support programs for both children and adults, including face to face counselling and support groups. Telephone counselling (by appointment) is also available to clients in more remote areas.
ACGB also runs a Kids Grieve Too support group program designed for children aged from six to 14 years who have experienced the death of someone significant in their lives.
Kids Help Line offers a confidential 24-hour counselling service for children and young adults aged from five to 25 years. They can call from anywhere in Australia for free on 1800 551 800.
Where to get help
- Your doctor
- Your local community health centre, hospital or palliative care service
- A trained bereavement counsellor
- NURSE-ON-CALL – expert health information and advice, 24 hours, 7 days Tel. 1300 606 024
- Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement – bereavement counselling and support services Tel. (03) 9265 2100 or 1800 642 066 (Australia-wide)
- Lifeline – crisis support and suicide prevention services, 24 hours, 7 days, 13 11 14
- Mercy Grief Services – for people living in the western region of Melbourne Tel. (03) 9313 5700
- Hope Bereavement Care – for people living in the Barwon region Tel. (03) 4215 3358
- The Compassionate Friends Victoria – grief support after the death of a son, daughter, brother or sister Tel. (03) 9888 4944 or 1800 641 091
- Kids Help Line – telephone counselling, 24 hours a day, seven days a week Tel. 1800 55 1800
- SIDS and Kids Victoria – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Tel. 1300 308 307
- SANDS (Miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death support) Tel. (03) 9899 0217 or 1300 0 SANDS
- Very Special Kids (Bereavement Support Program) Tel. (03) 9804 6222 or 1800 888 875
- Parentline Victoria – 8 am to 12 midnight, 7 days a week Tel. 13 22 89
- MensLine Australia – 24 hours a day, seven days a week Tel.1300 789 978
- Victims of Crime Helpline Tel. 1800 819 817
- Road Trauma Support Services Victoria Tel. (03) 8877 6900 or 1300 367 797
- SuicideLine Victoria – for counselling, crisis intervention, information and referral (24 hours, 7 days) Tel. 1300 651 251
- Support After Suicide Tel. (03) 9421 7640
- GriefLine Community and Family Services Inc. – loss and grief telephone counselling service, 12 noon to 3 am, seven days a week Tel. (03) 9935 7400 or 1300 845 745
Things to remember
- Everyone experiences the pain associated with grief at some time in their life.
- Support from family and friends is important.
- Help is available. Community organisations, agencies and groups often provide grief support services.
- The opportunity to talk things over with a trained counsellor can help you make sense of your feelings.
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This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
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Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement
Last reviewed: May 2015
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