What is bereavement?

Bereavement is the experience of losing a loved one. It is characterised by grief which is the process and range of emotions we go through when we lose someone – or something – important to us (sadness, anger, anxiety, guilt). 


Although bereavement is a normal process that everyone goes through, for some people, it can be an overwhelming experience that brings up unmanageable feelings. This is sometimes referred to as “complicated grief”. In complicated grief, the painful emotions of loss don’t improve with time and can lead someone to become withdrawn, angry and in some cases, depressed.

consultation taking notes

What are the symptoms of bereavement?

  • Intense sorrow and pain at the thought of your loved one
  • Focus on little else but your loved one’s death
  • Extreme focus on the things that remind you of your loved one or complete avoidance
  • Difficulties accepting the death
  • Numbness and/or detachment
  • Feeling that life has no purpose
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Inability to enjoy life or think back on the positive experiences with your loved one

Complicated grief symptoms

If your symptoms don’t improve over time, therapy can help. Some of the signs that your grief might have turned into complicated grief and that you should seek support are if:

  • You’re having trouble carrying out normal routines or activities
  • You’ve withdrawn from social activities
  • Feeling depressed
  • Thoughts of guilt or self blame
  • Believing that you did something wrong or could have prevented the death
  • You’ve lost all sense of purpose in life
  • Feeling that life isn’t worth living without your loved one
  • Wishing that you had died along with your loved one

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important that you make an appointment with your GP or contact us.

Frequently asked questions

When suffering bereavement, it’s normal to experience feelings of sadness and tearfulness. It is also common for bereavement to have an impact on your ability to manage daily life. But if these symptoms persist for longer than 4 – 8 weeks and you are beginning to feel like you’re not yourself, it’s important to seek support.

You are most likely to benefit from an integrative therapeutic approach which will help you explore your relationship with the person you lost. Depending on the complexity of this relationship, Schema Therapy can be helpful.

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Dr Elena Touroni

Dr Elena Touroni is a skilled and experienced consultant psychologist with a track record of delivering high-quality services for individuals with all common emotional difficulties and those with a diagnosis of personality disorder. She is experienced in service design and delivery, the management of multi-disciplinary teams, organisational consultancy, and development and delivery of both national and bespoke training to providers in the statutory and non-statutory sector.

Having obtained a first degree in Psychology (BSc) at the American College of Greece, she completed her doctoral training at the University of Surrey. Dr Touroni is highly experienced in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, substance misuse, personality disorder, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, adjustment disorder and relationship difficulties. She works with both individuals and couples and can offer therapy in English and Greek.

Dr Touroni has held a variety of clinical and managerial positions including as Head of Service in the NHS. Further she has held academic positions for the University of Surrey and the Institute of Mental Health lecturing on specialist postgraduate Masters and Doctorate programmes.

She is trained in several specialist therapeutic approaches such as schema therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches and Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT). As well as holding a variety of NHS positions, Dr. Touroni is the co-founder of a private practice in Central London that has been a provider of psychological therapy for all common emotional difficulties including personality disorder since 2002. She is the founder and one of two directors of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.