Book a call with an Anxiety UK advisor here

Book a call with an Anxiety UK advisor here


by Kimberley Bennett – Hospice Bereavement Counsellor and Anxiety UK Approved Therapist

I began my bereavement career as a trainee on a placement with my local hospice, that was over 17 years ago now and I have continued to work as a counsellor at the same hospice as a volunteer for them ever since.  I work with the bereaved family members who are struggling with the enormity of their loss and those who are coming to terms with their loved ones’ declining health and are in ‘end of life’ care.

My work at the hospice was probably most challenging during Covid, when loved ones were restricted in visiting their relative. My counselling room overlooked a small garden and from there were the windows to the patient’s rooms.  Seeing family members stood outside the windows, often in freezing cold and wet conditions, was heartbreaking but it also added another layer to the trauma that they were experiencing through this difficult and anxious time. Nearly 3 years later we are still seeing the effect; many clients had experienced multiple loss during these times and were experiencing complex grief, resulting in anxiety and often PTSD with vivid visions of their loved ones during their illness and death.  These symptoms can be very difficult to manage on their own but by working through this trauma you can start to recover and work through the grief process fully.

Anxiety is a common problem in bereavement and to help my clients understand what is happening to them, I use a metaphor of toast…. we pop some bread into the toaster and sometimes it will burn which will cause the smoke alarm to go off, but we don’t panic because we know it for what it is, a false alarm. When someone is approaching the end of their life, those close to them have often been in the state of alarm for many months and the alarm has been triggered many times.  Added to the heightened state of anxiety is the anticipatory grief process which is also anxiety provoking and can also happen when we know our loved one is approaching their end of life. This can impact us in many ways, such as problems with sleeping, feeling on edge and feeling unable to cope with everyday life, feeling isolated and alone and many others too.

To help support my clients I encourage them to talk about how they are feeling, to reassure them that these feelings are to be expected and help them with coping mechanisms to reduce their anxiety such as using breathing techniques. Many clients are surprised by how effective this can be, helping them to feel more in control and able to cope. Telling their story enables clients to be heard, to have their experience validated as well as being able to talk about the person they have lost and what the loss of this person’s life has meant to them personally as this person meant different things to different people and the loss will felt differently by everyone.

If you find that you are struggling with anxiety arising from grief and loss, you might benefit from speaking to a therapist and getting support.  Reach out to Anxiety UK for help.


If  you’re dealing with grief you may find the book Overcoming Traumatic Stress useful to help you in our shop here

The views expressed by the contributor are not necessarily those of Anxiety UK, nor can we guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. If you would like to write a blog for AUK please email [email protected]  for more information


Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash





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