What’s Grief Coaching? Programs, FAQs + More


Grief coaching is a specialized approach to overcoming the fears and anxiety one may experience after a loved one's death. It’s typical for a person experiencing grief to carry emotions that may limit hope and impact daily living. Grief coaching can enable you to restore emotional balance, hope, and happiness to your life.

Jump ahead to these sections:

In many ways, grief can negatively impact a person's ability to live and fully prosper when left untreated. A grief coach can listen, support, and guide an individual towards taking actionable steps to overcome the bereavement process. Daily responsibilities can become more manageable after one seeks specialized care through coaching.

Whenever determining that getting outside professional help is the right step for you, the following information will help you determine if grief coaching is the right approach. Or whether you should seek alternate grief resources such as online grief support groups, grief counseling, or therapy.

What’s a Grief Coach?

A grief coach supports you through your bereavement and works with you to develop a plan to help you in your recovery. Grief coaches can act as anchors whenever things get too unbearable for you when grieving and gently guide you through your pain and suffering. They are also there to answer any questions about grief that you may have. 

Coaching can help clients accept the changes in their life as a result of a tragedy. They can also talk you through envisioning a prosperous future without your loved one, understanding specific challenges that have developed due to grief, and how to overcome those challenges. They also teach you how to gain control of your current and future goals and find ways to act on them.

You may have heard of grief counselors as well. One way they differ from grief coaches is that they address the emotional and spiritual aspects of loss and help with the managing of the physical, social, and cognitive symptoms that develop after suffering a significant setback or other tragedy. A grief counselor aims at getting you back on your feet and functioning once again.

On the other hand, grief coaches are more of a cheerleader to get you motivated to move forward from your loss. They help you create a plan to get you moving ahead by creating subtle changes in your everyday routines. The value in coaching comes from strategies that individuals are given to develop their strength through the bereavement process so that their lives don’t become stuck in the grieving stage. 

Do you have an interest and desire to become a grief coach? Continue reading to learn more about the differences between a grief coach and a grief counselor and how you can become a certified grief coach.

» MORE: Your family has 500 hours of work to do after you die. Learn how to make it easier.

What’s the difference between a grief coach and a grief counselor?

A grief counselor focuses on your past and provides you with the necessary tools to explore unresolved feelings towards your relationship with your loved one who has died. A grief coach, on the other hand, supports you moving forward from your loss. In essence, grief counselors work with you to resolve what's in your past to help you come to terms with your present. And grief coaches are focused more on what comes next after suffering through tragedy. 

A grief counselor helps a bereaved person by focusing on grief-related emotions and conditions to help you make sense of what you're experiencing. They may offer spiritual and emotional advice on best managing your loss while supporting you through the mourning period. 

Grief coaches focus mainly on getting you back on your feet after a significant setback so you can achieve personal growth after loss. They encourage you to take actionable steps, much like any other type of coach, to help change your behavior to improve your outlook on life. They lead the way to recovery. 

Although counselors and coaches may have different approaches and goals, they can work together despite their differences in helping you navigate your grief journey to make it more successful.  A grief counselor takes you from a grieving, non-functioning person to one who is recovering and learning how to gain function after loss.

Grief coaches help propel you from someone who's getting through a setback to one who's significantly recovered and ready to move forward in life. They may task you with specific grief and loss activities to help you gain a new perspective on life.

What Typically Happens During a Grief Coaching Session?

Working with a grief coach helps you answer the question of where you go from here when trying to pick up the pieces after a setback. They'll help you move forward by providing a tailored approach to your particular situation. During your initial coaching session, you can expect to get to know one another to get a feel if you're a right fit for one another, your current situation, and set some future goals. 

Whatever grief coach you end up choosing, you can trust that they'll understand the impact of your loss on every part of your life. They'll help you transition from the point you are now and guide you into a deeper understanding of what it means to grieve. A coach's main objective is to help you plan your new life in a purposeful and meaningful way. 

You can expect a grief coach to:

  • Slowly guide you to recovery
  • Talk to you 
  • Help you understand your emotions
  • Support you through the mourning process
  • Minimize the feeling of being alone

A coach’s goal is to help push you through challenging times and help you focus on what’s ahead. During your sessions, you can expect them to help you navigate your changed life resulting from loss. 

How Do You Become a Grief Coach?

Anyone with a desire to help others get through their grief and onto the next chapter of their lives can become a grief coach with the proper training. There are many online courses offered as a way to prepare you to go on this path. The costs also vary significantly from one institution to the next.

Programs offered through organizations like the Institute for Life Coach Training prepare you with the right tools and training to obtain your credentialing through the International Coach Federation (ICF) and The Center for Credentialing and Certification. They are one of a few schools that have approved programs offered to get you credentialed under both organizations.

The following steps will help you become a grief coach in a few short weeks:

1. Explore your goals

Before deciding if grief coaching is the right path for you, explore your personal, financial, and business goals.

Know what you’re aiming for when deciding to undertake a major decision to either change career goals or embark on a new business venture. While some ideas quickly turn into a profitable business, others will take hard work and dedication in becoming viable. 

» MORE: Honoring your loved one doesn't have to be expensive. Sign up for free savings.

2. Have a niche in mind

Whenever deciding on starting something new, it helps better prepare you when you have zeroed in on a particular niche rather than generalizing your services. A niche allows you to focus your studies and efforts on one particular thing so that you become an expert in a particular field offering services to a highly targeted clientele. 

3. Choose a program of study

A first step to becoming a grief coach is selecting which of the available programs is right for you. Not every coach needs to become certified to work in this field. Depending on your previous experiences, skills, and education, there are different paths to take to being recognized as a grief coach.

You may also choose the spiritual grief coach path by becoming a member of the clergy and foregoing the certification process through ICF and others. Do the necessary legwork to determine which program is right for you. 

4. Enroll in your classes

You might have to wait for the next study program to begin before being on your way to your new career path. Some educational courses of study become available only a few times a year and offer limited enrollment. Others are on a revolving entry schedule that allows you to begin your coursework whenever you’re ready.

5. Prepare to go into business

Plan and prepare for going into business once you’ve obtained the proper education and credentialing. You may need to create a well-thought-out business plan to secure bank financing or get other funding sources to start your business. You’ll also need to conduct some initial market research to determine if it makes more sense to open your business online or in a physical location.

» MORE: Make a difference this Memorial Day. Create a plan to honor those you love.

How Do You Find a Grief Coach Online?

Finding a grief coach that’s right for you may take a little bit of time and effort doing some online research from the available resources. Choosing the right coach for you may become a bit overwhelming because there are so many options to select from online. The following steps might help you figure out where to start.

1. Do some research

There are many reputable online resources to help you choose from the many grief coaches offering their services online. You may want to consider checking out websites such as Good Therapy and Psychology Today. Both of these resources provide a list of recommended grief coaches to help get you started in your search. 

2. Ask for referrals

Consider joining online grief support groups found on Facebook or other websites to ask others for their opinions on grief counselors who’ve made an impression in their grief recovery. You may also want to check out a particular coach’s reviews and recommendations on websites such as Yelp and TrustPilot.

The Benefits of a Grief Coach

No one can entirely eliminate your grief after a loss, but a grief coach can immensely alleviate the weight of your suffering with carefully planned support sessions. If you’re finding it challenging moving forward from your grief, coaching can provide focus, clarity, and direction.

Coaching helps you become more self-aware so you can understand and determine which of your individual behaviors need modifying to successfully get you moving in the right direction after a loss. 

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.