Grief Counselling

Grief Counselling distance learning course. Learn about the grieving process and supporting people through grief. Professional development for trainee counsellors, social workers, and more.

Course CodeBPS209
Fee CodeS3
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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Study Grief Counselling by Distance Learning

Understand more about grief, the stages of grief and how to help people who are grieving.

Dealing with grief can be a very challenging time for those experiencing it. Observing someone suffering from grief and being unable to help them can be equally distressing. Grief is a term used to describe all the thoughts, behaviour and feelings that occur after someone goes through a bereavement. A bereavement is any event that includes a loss. We may experience loss through the death of someone close to us, or a relationship breakdown, divorce, theft, a disability, illness, miscarriage and so on.

There is no “right” way to respond to a death, people will cope with a death in their own way. The way they respond will be affected by their relationship with the person who has died, their own upbringing, their previous reactions to losses, their other relationships, and so forth.

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.

What our students are saying about this course: 

"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

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Nature and Scope of Grief and Bereavement
    • Understanding loss
    • Society's views on loss
    • Coping with loss
    • Knowing what to expect
    • Mourning
    • Living with grief
    • Terminology
    • Types of grief
  2. Stages of Grief
    • Common stages
    • Duration of grief
    • Denial
    • Anger
    • Bargaining
    • Depression
    • Acceptance
    • Tasks of mourning
    • Criticism
    • 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
    • Grief for 3 to 6 year old
    • Grief for 7 - 8 year old
    • Grief for children 9 years and older
    • Preparing a child for death
    • Sudden death
    • After a death
    • Funerals
    • 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 adolescent 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
    • Chronic illness and grief case study
    • Disabled child case study
    • Strategies for handling long term grief: guided mourning, support groups, medication, etc.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • 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.

What You Will Do

  • List euphemisms for dying.
  • Consider factors that can help set the conditions for the good death.
  • Discuss the ways that a wake or funeral service can be of help to mourners.
  • Discuss contemporary attitudes toward death in society and how they affect the treatment of dying.
  • Describe the stages of grief.
  • Explain why people pass through different stages at different times and not in a particular order.
  • List mechanisms available to help a counsellor support someone who is grieving.
  • Describe ways in which children might respond to grief.
  • Explain why different children respond to grief in different ways.
  • Describe counselling strategies for supporting the grieving child.
  • Research how adolescents respond to grief.
  • Outline counselling strategies for supporting the grieving adolescent.
  • List suicide prevention strategies.
  • Explain in general how we adjust to loss.
  • List some dangers of loss.
  • Describe some alternatives for loss recovery.
  • Research how bereavement affects survivors.
  • Describe some abnormal responses to grief, and how they are determined to be abnormal.
  • Describe some treatment methods for assisting a person suffering from abnormal grief.
  • Briefly describe symptoms of PTSD.
  • Discuss socio-cultural perspectives in preparing for grief and bereavement.
  • Research physiological and psychological effects of separation and loneliness in the aged.
  • Describe some effects of long term grief.
  • Outline some long term counselling support strategies.

Grief is Different for Every Individual

Holidays, anniversaries, Christmas and so on can be difficult times for the bereaved, as they can remind us of the person they have lost. Grief can be worse at these times of year. There is no single way to grieve. 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. The loss of a significant other often involves the survivor learning to cope and adjust to their loss.  Mourning behaviours and rituals differ between societies and religious groups in both 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.

Grief Counselling Can Help

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.

Who Can Benefit From This Course

This course covers a specialist area of counselling which is relevant to many counsellors and other therapists. Grief and loss affect us all and until we are faced with such circumstances, we can never be quite sure how we will react. Children too, have their own coping mechanisms. This course equips students with a thorough understanding of how grief and loss can affect individuals and strategies to help them deal with these occurrences.

This course is primarily aimed at people working in, or aspiring to work in:

  • Psychology

  • Counselling

  • Psychotherapy

  • Social work

  • Funeral services

  • Nursing

  • Aged care

  • Caring roles

  • Health professions

Find out More - Enrol Today

If you really would like to help  others deal with grief and loss, this is an ideal course for you.

You can enrol today - just go to the top of the page and select your study method and payment options.

If you have any questions or want to know more, get in touch with us now by -

Phone (International) +61 7 5562 1088 or (in Australia) 07 5562 1088, or

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Lyn Quirk

M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head fo
Tracey Jones

Widely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience. Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Lear
Jacinda Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Jacinda has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psycholo
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