Grief Counselling BPS209

Develop a capacity to help others better deal with their grief.

ACS student comment: "Being able to apply myself to distance education for the topic that interests me has been invaluable. Living in a remote area has a number of disadvantages. The lack of access to continuing education is one of great importance. Successfully completing the Grief Counselling course has enabled me to think ahead and possibly attempt future studies on this much needed issue." Mary Ann Cohen, Australia, Grief Counselling course.

Duration: 100 Hours (you study at your own pace).


The course is divided into eight lessons as follows:

  1. Nature and Scope of Grief and Bereavement
  2. Stages of Grief
  3. Grief and Children
  4. Grief and adolescents
  5. Adjustment to Bereavement
  6. Abnormal Grief
  7. Preparing for Grief and Bereavement
  8. Future outlook and Long-term Grief

What is in each lesson?

1. Nature and Scope of Grief and Bereavement
Understanding loss
Society's views on loss
Coping with loss
Knowing what to expect
Living with grief
Types of grief

2. Stages of Grief
Common stages
Duration of grief
Tasks of mourning
Mourning process in Judaism (case study)
Response to loss and grieving
Not coping

3. Grief and Children
Grief for children up to three years old
Greif for 3 to 6 year old
Grief for 7 - 8 year old
Greif for children 9 years and older
Preparing a child for death
Sudden death
After a death
Typical child responses to grief
Case studies
Feelings about suicide
Supporting a grieving child
Help from family and friends
Guidelines for letting children know what is and is not acceptable
Children with serious problems with loss and grief

4. Grief and Adolescents
Grief as a unique adolescent experience
Adolescent responses: remoteness, anger, abuse, tears, egocentrism, sense of universality, etc
Helping the grieving adolescent
Difference between adolecent and adult grief experience

5. Adjustment to Bereavement
What is grief
Accept the loss
Feel the pain
Adjust, Adapt, etc
Grief counselling
Counsellors response and intervention

6. Abnormal Grief
Complicated grief reactions
Worden's categories of complicated grief reactions
Causes of abnormal grief
Post traumatic stress disorder
Symptoms and treatment of PTSD
Loss of children in pregnancy: ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage
Supporting people with complicated grief
Managing grief after a disaster
The course of bereavement
Complications of bereavement
Traumatic grief
Risk factors for complications of bereavement
Treating bereaved individuals
Role of the professional in early stages of disaster bereavement

7. Preparing for Grief and Bereavement
Socio cultural influences on the grief process
Grief and terminal illness
Preparing for an approaching death
Practical preparations
Emotional responses of the dying
Responses of family and friends

8. Future Outlook and Long-Term Grief
Psychological aspects of long term grief
Cronic illness and grief case study
Disabled child case study
Strategies for handling long term grief: guided mourning, support groups, medication, etc


  • Describe the nature and scope of grief and bereavement counselling and individuals’ attitudes to grief.
  • To identify through continuing exploration, the meaning and responses of a wide range of loss situations, taking cultural variations into account.
  • To describe the different ways that children may respond to grief and to develop appropriate strategies for helping them to cope.
  • Determine the different ways that adolescents may respond to grief and to examine how these perspectives have translated into counselling practice
  • Describe the different means through which individuals are able to adjust to loss and to consider other options available to them.
  • Describe when an individual’s response to grief may be considered abnormal and to discuss methods of assisting such individuals.
  • Define the different ways of preparing for grief and bereavement and to consider social, cultural and psychological perspectives.
  • Describe separation, loneliness, the effects of long-term grief and long-term counselling support strategies.

Examples of what you may cover in this course

o List euphemisms for dying.

o Consider factors that can help set the conditions for the good death

o Discuss the ways that a wake or funeral service can be of help to mourners.

o Discuss contemporary attitudes toward death in society and how they affect the treatment of dying.

o Describe the stages of grief.

o Explain why people pass through different stages at different times and not in a particular order.

o List mechanisms available to help a counsellor support someone who is grieving.

o Describe ways in which children might respond to grief.

o Explain why different children respond to grief in different ways.

o Describe counselling strategies for supporting the grieving child.

o Research how adolescents respond to grief.

o Outline counselling strategies for supporting the grieving adolescent.

o List suicide prevention strategies.

o Explain in general how we adjust to loss.

o List some dangers of loss.

o Describe some alternatives for loss recovery.

o Research how bereavement affects survivors.

o Describe some abnormal responses to grief, and how they are determined to be abnormal.

o Describe some treatment methods for assisting a person suffering from abnormal grief.

o Briefly describe symptoms of PTSD

o Discuss socio-cultural perspectives in preparing for grief and bereavement.

o Research physiological and psychological effects of separation and loneliness in the aged.

o Describe some effects of long term grief.

o Outline some long term counselling support strategies.

o Compare effective and ineffective support for people going through grief and loss.

Everyone is different and each person grieves in his or her own way. However, some stages of grief are commonly experienced by people when they are bereaved.

  • Feeling emotionally numb is usually the first reaction to a loss, and perhaps lasts for a few hours or days. In some ways this numbness may help the person get through the practical arrangements and family pressures that surround the funeral, but if this phase goes on for too long, it could be a problem.
  • The numbness may be replaced by a deep yearning for the person who has died. The person may feel agitated or angry, and find it difficult to concentrate, relax or sleep. They may also feel guilty, dwelling on arguments they may have had with the dead person or on emotions and words they wished they had expressed.
  • This period of strong, often volatile emotions usually gives way to bouts of depression, sadness, silence and withdrawal from family and friends. During this time, the person may be prone to sudden outbursts of tears, set off by reminders and memories of the dead person.
  • Over time, the pain, sadness and depression begins to lessen. The person begins to see their life in a more positive light again, although, it is important to acknowledge that they may never completely overcome the feeling of loss.
  • The final phase of grieving is to let go of the person who has died and move on with life. This helps any lingering depression to clear, and sleeping patterns and energy levels return to normal.

The grieving process takes time and should not be hurried. How long it takes depends on the situation and the individual. In general, though, it takes most people one to two years to recover from a major bereavement. Mourning behaviours and rituals differ between societies and between religious groups both in their form and their duration.


Grief and depression are different. We can be grieving without being depressed. Grief is a typical reaction to a loss. It does not mean we have to become depressed as well. However, some of the symptoms are similar. But, about 33% of bereaved people have a depressive illness one month after their loss, with 15% still being depressed a year later.


A person may be depressed if they are also experiencing strong feelings of guilt not related to the bereavement, thoughts of suicide and dying, feeling worthless, slow speech and movements, staying in bed for long periods, inability to function socially, hallucinations about the deceased person.


Some people are more prone to experience depression after bereavement, for example, if they have a history of depression, intense grief, few social supports and little experience of death. However, this does not mean that if a person has these characteristics that they WILL have depression after bereavement.




After bereavement, family and friends may support us, but sometimes this is not enough. Sadness is a typical and natural reaction. We may want to discuss the deceased person, will probably become upset when we do.


If a person is also thought to be suffering from depression, antidepressants may be prescribed by a doctor. Antidepressants treat the depression, but they do not have an effect on the underlying problem – their grief. Untreated depression can make it harder for the person to cope with their grief though.


There are many different responses to grief, which are totally normal, and doctors, counsellors and psychiatrists may be reluctant to diagnose a person as mentally ill during a bereavement. They may provide support to help the person grieve.


A grief counsellor can help the mourning process by allowing a person to move through the stages of grief in a relationship that is supportive and confidential. The grief counsellor will try to help the person to accept their loss and talk about it. They will encourage them to identify and express their feelings of anger, guilt, sadness, helplessness and anxiety.


The grief counsellor will also help the person live without the deceased, encouraging them to make decisions alone. They may need to separate emotionally from the deceased and form new relationships. The grief counsellor will also provide support and identify ways of coping with the bereavement. The grief counsellor will also help the person to realise that what they are experiencing is normal and a typical response to grief, that they are not “going mad”.


There are organizations, such as Cruse and Compassionate Friends, who are able to offer grief counselling support, as well as counsellors who may specialise in grief counselling.


ACS operates a student bookshop that suuplies a range of texts to supplement our courses; some written by our staff, all reviewed and approved by our academic experts (to be accurate and relevant to students studying our courses).

  • Student discounts are available to anyone studying with ACS Distance Education.
  • Both printed books and ebooks (as downloads) available

Counselling Handbook -written by a team of psychologists and counsellors who work as tutors and course developers with ACS Distance Education. This is a great, easy to read book, designed to complement a range of our psychology courses.

See for sample pages, or to buy a copy and download it immediately online (Can be read on a computer, ipad, iphone, lap top, most book readers or similar devices).


Other Options

If you are not sure about this course, why not have a look at our Introduction to Psychology course


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B 2 x $473.00  2 x $430.00

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