Bereavement counselors are specialized therapists who help families and friends of the recently deceased work through issues related to death. They are typically employed by health care organizations, as well as medical entities which offer hospice and other palliative end-of-life care-giving. These counselors serve as guides to help individuals through the various stages of healthy grieving in order to move on with their own lives and responsibilities.
Often, the services of bereavement counselors are offered to families who have a relative in hospice care. As these counselors talk and listen to family members, they must be gentle listeners who are able to offer reassurance. They also listen actively for possible issues that may obstruct a healthy grieving process; if such an issue is identified, the counselor works with the individual to better understand underlying feelings and emotions and work toward a better understanding of what has occurred.
Bereavement counselors may also work within the military or city public services; these counselors offer comfort and solace to family and friends who may have lost someone close in military service or from an accident or homicide. In these situations, these counselors guide loved ones through the early stages of grief and refer those who may need further counseling to a therapist who works with a larger health care group.
Most bereavement counselors have a university degree in a psychology- or counseling-related field. Some employers may seek out applicants with a religious background and formal education in areas of theology and divinity. Bereavement counselors typically work regular hours of the work week; because this may be considered "stressful employment," these counselors should be highly skilled at departmentalizing their work to prevent it from interfering with personal life.
Bereavement Counselor Tasks
Refer family to community resources to assist in recovery from loss and to provide access to services such as financial assistance, legal aid, or housing.
Counsel clients and patients in individual and group sessions to help them overcome the loss of a loved one and adjust to life.