Grief counselling

Shattered hearts and feelings of emptiness can seem eternal in loss.

Grief is a natural response to intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death. Feelings of grief are not experienced exclusively through the death of someone as sometimes you may feel loss when a relationship ends, someone you care about is terminally ill, someone you care about moves away, loss of an animal, loss of a job, loss of your home and even loss of a personal dream. Grief counselling provides an effective way to learn to cope with the stress associated with the loss and to manage symptoms so that you can heal and cope with the loss.

How does grief affect people?

Grief can affect people in different ways. Grief may leave you feeling deeply sad, angry or alone. You may find yourself feeling numb and detached from everything around you. Feeling bitterness and resentment is also commonly associated with grief. This can lead to lack of joy in life. Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. It’s natural to feel a yearning for the other person, even if it was a negative relationship in your life. Regret and guilt can also come into play. Depending on the type of grief you are going through you may have a strong feeling about how the persons’ connection to you ended. While these emotional symptoms are normal in the days and weeks following grief, should they persist over a long period of time it is worth reaching out to a helping hand.

Physical symptoms of grieving are very real as the body goes through a shock reaction. This shock may present itself as chest pain, headaches, digestive issues, sore muscles and fatigue. If you do experience an extreme of any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor as soon as possible.

You can expect someone who has gone through grief to be unable to attend work, school or any social events for some time after. If this is an ingoing response, then their grief may lead to more concerning physical and mental health issues.

What are the stages of grief?

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross describes the stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

The denial phase is when you are not able to accept that you have lost someone or something you care about. “I can’t believe this has happened. It cannot be true.” Are common phrases used.

The anger phase is when you feel angry towards everyone and everything, even the person or thing that has been lost. This is an irrational anger and irritability can spill in to every interaction you may have.

The bargaining phase is when you hope that the bad news is reversible and that you can somehow undo this. Often by making promises to do something else instead or give up something you have. A common response of this may be, “If I was a better person this would not have happened.”

The depression phase is a necessary phase of the grieving process. This is the opportunity to begin separating ourselves from our loved ones and say good bye to what was.

The acceptance phase is a place that is natural to reach but many don’t know how to get here as they become stuck in the previous phases. The acceptance phase is a time of peace, calm and going within. A time of resolution where the decision is made to move forward… not to forget what has happened but to be accepting of the goodness that came from it.

You don’t need to go through all of the grief phases in order to heal. You will feel as if you are on an emotional rollercoaster as you try to process all you are feeling.

Coping with loss is a deeply personal journey. No one can tell you how you will feel, all you can expect is support through your feelings and your pain until you find the light again.

What you can do to start healing?

The pain that grief brings with it can leave you feeling like you want to hide away from everyone you know. The truth is that having the support of people who love you is a vital part of healing from loss. It is comforting to be around warm and kind people who can take care of you during this difficult time. You don’t need to speak about how you are feeling, but it will help if you do. If you find talking about the situation to be too difficult, then try writing about it in a journal. Keeping yourself burdened with emotion will only lead to more severe symptoms of grief down the line. If you feel as if the people in your life do not understand nor identify with your loss, it is worth considering joining a support group where you can share your experience with others who have walked a similar path to you. Using social media to create a memorial page where friends and family can post their messages may also be a comfort if you have lost someone through death.
It is so important to take care of yourself by eating well and sleeping as much as possible. Allow others to help with the logistics of cooking meals etc. to help keep your strength up. You need your strength up so that you can begin to face your feelings, in whatever way feels comfortable. Avoiding your feelings will only quell them in the short time. Try your best to go about your usual routine, as you are able to. Plan for any triggers that may be reminders of the loss you have experienced – rope your friends and family in to encourage you during this time. Be gentle with yourself and avoid judging yourself and how you are coping.

What you can do to help others who have experienced grief?

There is no perfect response to support someone you care about going through grief. Being available and offering practical support are usually the most valuable things you can offer. However, here are a few suggestions that may be relevant to your situation: Allow your loved one to grieve in their own way without any judgement or criticism on your part. Be truthful about the present situation by using statements like, “I know that this is painful. You are not alone. I am with you.” Be as comfortable as you can through these uncomfortable emotions without wanting to cheer your loved one up or get them over the emotions they are experiencing – you don’t need to fix this. Don’t wait for your loved one to ask for help, it is unlikely that they will be able to. Instead, tell them when you will visit and what you will help them with to alleviate additional strain. Do your best not to take over without asking permission first. Your loved one may be hanging on to the normality of having their home in a certain way as a form of comfort. Grief is such a personal journey and often people want to share this grief, but this may be the last thing your loved one feels like. Being the ‘gatekeeper’ so to speak may be a very valuable role to take on. All that is then left to do is love, love, love your loved one.

How can I help?

The most inaccurate of statements is the commonly used, ‘’time heals all wounds.’’ The truth is that when it comes to grief, time heals only a little. When you lose someone or something that was significant to you, it can feel as if there is no way of moving forward without them or without it. Healing from grief does not mean that you will stop feeling the loss inside of you or fill the void that is open. Healing from grief means that you learn to live around it. You remember the good times and the positive aspects, you surrender to the ending of that time and draw strength from the pain and anguish you have been through. When you are ready to start your journey of healing, there is love waiting for you. There is a place where you can work through your emotions and understand your physical responses. There is a person who knows what loss is all about, she is waiting for your call.

In the beautiful words of Julie Axelrod, “As long as there is life, there is hope. As long as there is hope, there is life.”

How I work

My approach

Driven by passion, my working style is open, honest and highly intuitive. If you choose to work with me, I expect you to put the bs story you’ve been telling yourself about why you can’t move on and why you can’t be a success, aside. I am results driven, that means that I am invested in YOU and your recovery. I take my commitments seriously. That being said, I, better than anyone, know that we each move at our own pace, so equally I celebrate individuality and tailor the pace and progress of your success to achieve your goals. Where there is gentleness, there is also strength, my working style embodies both. I dig into your depths and help you build a rock-solid foundation of self-belief and confidence. Whatever is out there, is yours for the taking. I guide you in making that your reality. I see you, all of you, even when you are unable to.

My clients

My passion is helping others and I embrace all people from all walks of life, irrespective of age, race, gender or stature. I work with people young and old, male and female, gay or straight…. Trauma, life, challenges, hurt, pain doesn’t discriminate in my books. So, whoever you are, wherever you are from, when we take each step together, we move forward together and we celebrate your victories together. Building our relationship on trust and nurturing you in a safe and protected space can only have a positive impact on your life.

My training

I have many certifications and accreditation, however, I believe my greatest ‘training’ comes directly from my personal experience. Having been exposed to trauma from a young age through to adulthood, experience has given me the capacity to not only empathise with my clients, but honestly sympathise with where they are in life, because I have been there too. My experience has given me compassion and a deep rooted understanding, my B.A. Honors in Social Science along with many other certifications I have worked hard for, have given me the tools to be able to further my true passion…. helping others with their challenges…because you don’t have to be alone

Becoming my client

If you feel ready to make a change or improve parts of yourself, we are a great fit. If you are unsure about committing to change and feel halfheartedly about growing, I would be doing you a disservice by agreeing to work with you. Time and energy are valuable commodities, invest wisely in yourself and who you work with. You deserve nothing less.

On our journey together you'll

TRANSFORM every area of your life into vibrant success.

REVIVE and awaken yourself from the haze of shock and the aftermath of your ordeal.

ACCEPT what has happened to you and take strength from your situation.

UNDERSTAND who you now are because life has changed you.

METHODICALLY move beyond the limitations that you’ve been creating as a way to survive.

ACHIEVE the best version of you by rising above the superficiality of your experience, owning the depth of your wisdom and the freedom that is yours to have.

Book a free introductory call and learn how I can help you transform your life.

On our journey together you'll

TRANSFORM every area of your life into vibrant success. REVIVE and awaken yourself from the haze of shock and the aftermath of your ordeal. ACCEPT what has happened to you and take strength from your situation. UNDERSTAND who you now are because life has changed you. METHODICALLY move beyond the limitations that you’ve been creating as a way to survive. ACHIEVE the best version of you by rising above the superficiality of your experience, owning the depth of your wisdom and the freedom that is yours to have.

Book a free introductory call and learn how I can help you transform your life.

What my clients say

"If you feel that your long-held beliefs and deep rooted problems are holding you back in life, then I can recommend this course to you. Over two days, the counseling and encouragement triggered a catalyst for me to begin a journey of self-discovery, all within a safe environment with others who felt the same way."

Sarah (Guernsey, Channel Islands) 2005

"I feel that the structure of the course would challenge anybody and their boundaries on many levels. I cried a lot during the weekend but maybe that was meant to happen. I didn’t feel sad after we finished the sessions each day, drained yes, but not sad. Optimistic in fact, because you’ve been given some tools to help you cope with stress and problems in your life from now on in. I learned something important too that I deserved to be happy. A lot of the time I don’t think that I do … The Louise Hay workshop has left a lasting imprint on my heart and I will never forget the women I met or what we all learnt about ourselves and from each other with the help of our tutors. Going back to what I said at the start, I am so glad I took part and I would highly recommend this course to anyone."

Alne (Lusty Beg, Belfast)

"I saw her (chiropractor) this morning and she said it was the first time in four years that she has been able to adjust my lower back its thanks to the wonderful work you helped me with last weekend. All my emotions were ‘stored’ down there and I was holding on to them for dear life! Now that I’ve been able to let go emotionally, my body has been able to let go as well. I am so much better off since meeting you... The work we did has had a wonderful effect on my life! I can now truly see each new day as a gift, without needing to look backwards or forwards. Thanks to the lessons you taught me, my life has a whole new meaning and it is so liberating to be able to leave the old behind… Keep up the wonderful work that you are doing!"

Joanne (Johannesburg) 2008

"GETTING ALONG MARVELLOUSLY!!! I am really astounded (and believe me when I say this – it takes a lot to move me). I am more positive and getting more so. My outlook has changed completely (more positive thoughts and so forth). The reason for all this is: On Tueday last week got phoned from a hotel group that previously did not approve my application – went for interview last Friday (awaiting positive results) and on Wednesday last week my current employer offered me a higher position and remuneration and so forth (I have wanted this for the last 6 months or more – new job and higher income). Things, (big and small) seem to really fall in place.”

Lucas (Johannesburg) 2008 

"I attended the ‘love yourself, heal your life’ course this weekend with Gaelene and I can’t even express how awesome it was. I felt as if the content was ‘written’ especially for me and it is going to push me over that last little hurdle after which, I plan to never ever look back on this dark time. I just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the life changing course this weekend. I cannot believe how much it has helped me and how much it feels like I have been lifted out of a very deep, dark hole. I am aware that this was not the only thing that has helped me (and gratefully so, because then I would doubt the longevity thereof) but it certainly was pivotal and I will forever be grateful for your time. I would highly recommend this to anyone. Thank you so much."

Theresa (Johannesburg) 2008

"This workshop has truly transformed my life! While I had read books on the subject the workshop really brought these ideas and principles to life, bettering my understanding of them and their relevance to my life. The exercises in the workshop really helped me see the negative beliefs I had – some I was aware of, and some that I had no idea existed until the workshop. The exercises were facilitated in such a way that I always felt safe, feeling free to discover my beliefs and patterns, but secure in the sense that a loving and experienced facilitator was guiding my journey. The take home materials and CD’s have really allowed me to apply the techniques to my everyday life. The most important element of the workshop for me was that I felt I could truly be and explore who I really am. The environment that Gaelene creates is a warm, loving space where unconditional acceptance and safety are a given. I highly recommend this workshop to everyone, whether you are looking to make changed, or just merely want to improve your quality and understanding of life."

Lara (Johannesburg) 2007

"On a more profound note, the past week and a bit have been extremely challenging in so far as life throwing everything at me to test the newly leant belief system. It has been harrowing to say the least, but I have survived with a lot more positivity becoming my reality. I also wake up singing ‘I love myself…’ and have been doing so since last week."

Liz ( Johannesburg) 2008

"Thank you for all the support and encouragement you give so generously! We are blessed to have you!"

Karin (Johannesburg) 2008

"Just want to say thank you for the course this weekend I thought I was not going to learn something new for a youngster like you but at the end I really got emotional and that’s what I needed just to see every time is a new journey and you (ma) go with the flow with what comes up… Thank you!"

Rene (Johannesburg) 2008

"Gaelene gave me the tools and wisdom to find my truth, and to finally like the person that I am. She has a quiet, gentle strength which I came to rely on quite a bit in my journey of self discovery."

Coralee (Johannesburg) 2016

"I indeed entered a new chapter after the wonderful course I did with you three years ago. I am engaged to be married, to my ex husband. Its been a wonderful two years back together (after 5 years of divorce). Our daughters are so happy and still ‘congratulate’ us on a daily basis. Who would have thought?"

Charinne (Johannesburg) 2016

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I’m Gaelene, a qualified social worker with practices in JHB and Durban, I specialise in creating a safe space for people who feel lost and paralysed by their experiences. A space where people feel accepted and supported through their journey whilst reclaiming the greatest version of themselves.

Watch my videos to learn more.

We’re not so different, you and me, join my soul tribe and become more of who you were meant to be.