Grief and Loss

Child with shadow of a passed family member

Coping with grief and loss is one of the most difficult things we face as humans.  There is nothing more devastating than losing someone close to you, and it is often impossible to fill the hole left behind by the person you loved.  In addition to coping with the loss of someone you love, there are often many secondary losses faced in the mourning process.  For example, when you lose a spouse, that often means losing financial security.  It also means losing the identity of the role that you played as husband or wife.  When a child dies, it means losing the role of parent.  There is an adjustment to fulfilling the tasks that had previously been done by the deceased person.  Where once there was division of household labor, now you are responsible for doing everything.  Or where once your days were filled with caring for child or a sick or aging loved one, now your days feel empty and purposeless.  Each loss if different.  And each person reacts differently to that loss.  Finding your way through grief and mourning is a difficult process.

There are many different theories of the process of grief.  Most famous perhaps is Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ 5 stages of grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

John Bowlby espoused a 4 stage theory of grief including:

  1. Shock and Numbness
  2. Yearning and Searching
  3. Despair and Disorganization
  4. Reorganization and Recovery

Worden created 4 Tasks of Mourning:

  1. Accept the Reality of the loss
  2. Work through the pain of grief
  3. Adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing
  4. Find an enduring connection with the deceased while embarking on a new life

Dr. Teresa Rando developed the 6 Rs of grief:

  1. Recognize the loss
  2. React to separation from your loved one
  3. Recollect and Re-experience the deceased
  4. Relinquish old attachments
  5. Readjust to a new world
  6. Reinvest emotional energy

There is wisdom in each of these theories as well as many others.  If there is one common thread that I find throughout the theories as well as in my experience from working with many bereaved people, it is that GRIEF IS WORK .  It is an active process, not a passive process.  It is not something that happens TO you, it is something that you must seek out and experience, even though it is painful and it is difficult.  Many people avoid grief, understandably so.  However, the longer grief is set aside and hidden from us, the more complications can arise.  I have seen many people who present for therapy with severe symptoms of depression or anxiety, but after exploring those symptoms, we often find underneath it all is the very sincere pain of grief and loss.

If you are experiencing the pain of grief and loss, and you would like someone to walk with you through the difficult process of grief work, please call me today for a free 15 minute phone consultation.

For more information on these theories of grief, as well as many others, please visit What’s Your Grief at .

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