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Why do you expect so little from grief coaching/counselling? Please raise your expectations.

Why do you expect so little from G.R.I.E.F. coaching/counselling?  Please raise your expectations.

When people meet me they often suggest that my work must be very hard or very sad.  Actually I love my work to bits and find it incredibly uplifting and inspiring.

Yes, there are bits that make me sad….but not the bits you think.  Not at all.  The things that hurt me are things like what happened yesterday.

A potential client had been put in touch with me and after some discussion I suggested she take a day to think about whether to see me or not. The reason being that while she had lost someone close to her, the emotions from this were far less than the emotions and stress she is currently going through from another area in her life (with a person that hasn’t died).  After thinking about it she called me, agreeing that the latter was a far more pressing problem right now and we discussed what would be more appropriate help for that.

Now over the couple of days we had been in touch she had emailed me several times, with very lengthy emails, describing how she was feeling about all of the various things going on in her life.

At the point that we agreed not to work together right now she told me to let her know how much she owed for all the email contact.  Having done nothing, but read the emails and reply briefly suggesting we talk over the phone, I asked what she thought I had done for her that she needed to pay for.  She answered ‘I felt listened to’.

And my heart almost broke right there.  And then I felt furious.

Yes, this is me. With shorter hair.  And a fringe.

It isn’t that I don’t value my time – don’t get me wrong.  It isn’t at all that I don’t think I deserve to be reimbursed for the work I do.  But reading emails is NOT the work I do.  I get paid to change the way people feel after they’ve lost a parent or someone else they love.  To help them feel different and better.  But this isn’t what most people expect.  They expect real help with other things yes….but not with their grief.  With grief they expect just to be listened to and understood – because what else could someone possibly do for you?

And THIS is the kind of thing that saddens me in my work. That someone’s expectations of what help they can get with G.R.I.E.F. is so incredibly low that they think they should pay to be ‘listened to’…by email or otherwise.

You don’t go into a restaurant, look at the menu, and then pay even though you haven’t eaten.  If you leave hungry then why would you pay?

You don’t go into a chiropractor’s office, stand at the desk and explain in great detail how bad your back hurts as the receptionists listens politely, nodding her head, then pay before leaving.  If no-one has treated you why would you pay?

But with G.R.I.E.F. we don’t imagine anyone can do anything other than listen.

Enough is enough.  Seriously.

Being listened to and understood might be cathartic and feel nice…but it doesn’t change a darn thing about your experience and how it is affecting your life.  You may not expect real, tangible results from G.R.I.E.F. help because the pain of loss seems too big – but let the person working with you worry about that. If they are doing this work then they should know what they are doing, be darn good at it, and be able to offer you results.  If not they would be better placed elsewhere. Like in the restaurant I mentioned.

You wouldn’t settle for a personal trainer, or a doctor, or a relationship coach, or a financial planner, that didn’t give you real results, rather than a kind ear, a pat on the hand and a box of tissues.  Don’t settle for this with your G.R.I.E.F. help anymore.

If you’ve lost someone you love and you seek help then it is your right to expect real tangible results…because it is possible.  And do not settle for anything else.  No-one deserves your money who cannot offer you results.  Absolutely no-one.

Rant over.

If you have something to add, ask, or if you’d like to rant on the topic too there is this lovely comment area below for you to do it.  Feel free……..:)




Laura smith October 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm

I confess this made me laugh even though that probably wasn’t the intention! I think perhaps you could take it as a compliment that just you being you – warm, empathic and caring – even before you got to ‘work’, was something she found incredibly valuable.

Kristie West October 11, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Haha! Yes it’s probably fair to laugh at me. I’ve been livid and frustrated since the conversation and felt the need to get on my soapbox…I mean blog…about it. 😉