Chapter 3: I need some help

Asking for help from a professional

I've been there
Bonnie talks about reaching out for help. (3:22)Video transcript
How professional help assisted Aimee and Mishi as a couple. (3:22)Video transcript
Alvin describes benefits of counselling in the early days of grief. (3:22)Video transcript
Cheryl talks about follow-up care after her father's death. (3:22)Video transcript

Only crazy people talk to therapists, and I am not crazy.

When someone you care about is dying, you may feel overwhelmed by what is happening. Feeling overwhelmed can include anxiety or panic about your lengthy to-do list, or being unable to begin or complete tasks.

You may feel you are having trouble coping. You may be eating and sleeping poorly, struggling to get through each day, finding you are more irritable or emotional than usual, or are preoccupied with thoughts of suicide.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or having trouble coping, you might benefit from talking with a mental health professional who is specifically trained in grief counselling.

When should I seek professional help?

Sadness, anger, stress, worry and grief are all part of the normal and healthy range of human emotions. Sometimes these emotions become overwhelming and impact your health, relationships or work. In this case, it might be helpful to speak with your doctor or a counsellor about how you are feeling.

Who are mental health professionals?

A mental health professional could be a:

  • Psychiatrist
  • Psychologist
  • Your family doctor
  • Counsellor or therapist
  • Social worker
  • Nurse
How can I find a mental health professional?

Your family doctor or the dying person's health care team may be able to suggest someone. Also, your workplace might offer an Employee Assistance Program that will connect you with a counsellor.

Getting professional support for the patient

It can be difficult to suggest to someone that they consult with a mental health professional. Forcing someone to talk rarely leads to good results. Sometimes all we can do is gently make the suggestion, and perhaps offer to accompany them to the first appointment. You might consider bringing this up in a family meeting with the patient's physician.

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