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our philosophy

At Grief Encounter everything we do, from one to one counselling to family days, from the helpline to training courses is based on our fundamental philosophy that every child, young person and family experiencing the death of a loved one should receive the best possible care and support.

a spiral of grief
Dr Shelley Gilbert

It was commonly believed that people went through “stages of grief” in a progressive way. Grief Encounter’s founder, Dr Shelley Gilbert has reassessed those stages, believing instead a more realistic process – The Upward Spiral of Grief.

Written about in more detail in Shelley’s GriefBook (2021) the spiral shows the commonly known feelings of grief; disbelief, denial, shock, sadness, guilt and anger, but not in any set order. The spiral instead more closely reflects the reoccurring emotions and confusion that a child may feel.

  • The “Upward Spiral of Grief” allows bereaved people to accept and face their feelings, safe in the knowledge that the feelings will come back and go and come back, but with less intensity
  • The spiral gives bereaved people permission to grieve in their own way, over time. It’s often comforting to know that all feelings are “normal” but also to know that we all do grief differently
  • The spiral takes away the pressure of the “stages”, making it less frightening to revisit these feelings time and time again.
  • The spiral highlights the difference between the traumatic impact of untimely death and the longer-term work of learning to live without the special person who has died

The upward spiral shows that there is hope and light in the darkness; colour will come back but it takes time and love. It’s certainly not a neat and tidy journey, but complicated and full of pit-holes.

At Grief Encounter our mission is simple but meaningful; to offer compassion, understanding and support wherever we see grief, confusion and pain.

How to Lose Friends and Empty a Room

Shelley shares a powerful message at this TEDx Talk, about the grieving processes of young people and adults, reframing thinking about the way we grieve and giving people permission to grieve in a much better way than undertaken in our society.