Grief coaching

Written by Katherine Nicholls

Katherine Nicholls

Life Coach Directory Content Team

Last updated on 25th March, 2022

Coping with loss is, sadly, something all of us will likely experience at some point in our lives. Grief coaching helps people understand the impact of their loss and set goals to help them begin to move forwards.

What is grief coaching?

Losing a loved one can feel incomprehensible for many. Bringing up a range of emotions, including anger, disbelief and loneliness, coping with grief isn’t an easy thing. And, as coach Nancy Everson explains, it can affect us all differently.

“Grief is different for everyone. While people might experience similar feelings at times, there is no one journey or timeframe for someone experiencing loss and grief. Some people experiencing grief find it difficult to speak openly and honestly about their loss with friends and family, for fear of upsetting or worrying them, or because they feel society wants them to 'get on with life'.”

In these instances, speaking with a professional – someone who is impartial – can be helpful. “Coaching supports a person to look at the impact of their loss and how they might begin to move forward and adapt to their changed life, without losing what’s important to them.” Nancy explains.

“It provides a safe space where they can talk and begin to work through emotions and set goals to help them move forward, in their own time.”

Grief coaching can also be thought of as a way of rediscovering what’s been taken away from you through loss, such as self-confidence and motivation. Working with a coach can help you feel like yourself again, while honouring the memory of your loved one. The pain of loss may never truly leave you, but making space around it and being able to live your life to the fullest is the best tribute.


Other types of grief

When we hear grief, we predominantly think of bereavement and losing someone, however there are other areas in our lives where we may experience grief.

Divorce and relationship break-ups

When a relationship comes to an end, there is often a sense of grief around the loss of that relationship. It can take its toll emotionally and feel very similar to bereavement. Relationship coaches can help you come to terms with what’s happened and help you rebuild your confidence and self-esteem. 

“Divorce can be a profound loss like no other. The person you committed to spending the rest of your life with, in some cases (if you have no children together or other ties), can leave your life and you may never see them again. To all intents and purposes, they may as well have died.”

- Amy Reeve BSc, MBA

Redundancy

Losing a job unexpectedly can leave anyone reeling. If you enjoyed the job and it was a big part of your career journey, having it taken away from you can lead to a sense of grief. There may be a mourning period for what you’ve lost before you’re able to pick yourself up and start looking for other options. Working with a redundancy coach can be an excellent way to set goals that will move you forward in your career, finding a new role that suits your strengths.

Life transitions

There are moments in our lives that shift our sense of self. These may include children growing up and moving out (leading to empty nest syndrome) and retirement. When these transitions happen, they can bring our identity into question as we consider who we are outside of these roles. Working with a coach can help you reconnect with your values and your true self, so you feel calm and confident moving into these new stages of life. 

Chronic illness

Being diagnosed with a chronic illness can be a life-changing moment for many. There may be new restrictions to everyday life to contend with, leading to a great sense of loss. Again, working with a coach here can help you cope with the loss and find a way to move forward.


What is the difference between grief counselling and grief coaching?

If you’re looking for a professional to help you cope with grief, you’ll notice there are different options available, including grief counselling and grief coaching. Typically, counselling is more focused on reflecting on past events and managing the difficult emotions that come with loss. 

“Grief coaching also supports a person to manage their emotions, but not looking back at the past.” Nancy explains, “It supports the person in moving forward to their desired future. Through coaching the person can identify how they want their life to be, and with emotional and practical support, coaching creates goal-setting to make their desired outcome their reality.”

For some, it isn’t a case of either or; it’s about turning to the right support at the right time.

In the early days after my loss, I sought therapy. It was really helpful for enabling me to survive the trauma of loss and cope with my grief. When I was ready to move forward, I turned to coaching. As a result of coaching, I found ways to move from surviving to thriving and use my experience for personal growth.

- Is coaching right for grief and loss?

What to expect from grief coaching

If you decide grief coaching is the right approach for you, it can be helpful to have an idea of what to expect from your session. Here, Nancy explains how she works with clients in grief coaching sessions.

“Each person's grief is unique and so every person I coach has tailored sessions, meeting their own unique needs. Someone coming to me for grief coaching can expect a friendly and supportive environment where they can take some time out for themselves. My role is to listen to them, to validate how they are feeling and help them identify the direction they want to move towards, reflecting back on the things they are saying and ask questions that can help them find new perspectives. 

“I'm not here to tell or give advice, but to support the person to express their emotions in a safe way and to help them find a way to move forward in a way that feels right for them.

“We’ll explore different perspectives and work out how best they can adapt to their changed life. For those grieving the loss of a person, we might explore how they can move forward in life without losing a connection to that person and all they meant to them. 

“The sessions are led by the client, I'm here for them in their own time and way, offering an empowering way for people experiencing loss to find a way to move forward in their life.” 


Finding a grief coach 

Finding someone you feel comfortable sharing with is essential for any coaching relationship, and this is true of grief coaching. Take time to search for coaches who may be able to help, read more about them and send an enquiry to learn more. Many coaches will happily talk to you about what you’re seeking help with to ensure they are the right fit for you.

Know that you are not alone in your loss and that moving forward is possible. 

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