Updated: Apr 7, 2022
- Teresa Jacobson, DBH, LPCC-S, NCC
March 24, 2020
"The pain we have not grieved over will always stand between us and life. When we don't grieve, a part of us becomes caught in the past...Grieving is not about forgetting. Grieving allows us to heal, to remember with love rather than pain. It is a sorting process. One by one you let go of the things that are gone and you mourn for them. One by one you take hold of the things that have become a part of who you are and build again." -- Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen.
I do not profess to be an expert on anyone's grief except my own. But I do have experience working with many people who have experienced more than their share of grief. Grief can be among the most difficult emotions to bear. Each person who walks through grief experiences does it uniquely. In each case, however, working hard to cultivate a desire to live despite the loss seemed to be a common thread. Grief is a pain that touches every human being at different points, and it certainly can shape who we are.
The first attempt to destigmatize death and dying was Kubler-Ross's stages of grief. Many interpreted the stages to be the stages that we go through as we grieve those we lost. On Death and Dying was actually written for those who were dying. The stages include denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Literature doesn't typically denounce the stages, but some criticism in the literature states disagreement with the stages, as if they were "fixed" and sequential. Grief definitely is a process, but not a linear one. When grieving, we tend to weave in and out of different stages.
In working with folks, I lean more towards Worden's Task-Oriented Framework of Mourning. These included includes four tasks of mourning which are meant to support the process of grieving, including: (a) accepting the reality of the loss; (b) working through the pain of grief; (c) adjusting to an environment where the deceased is missing; and (d) to finding an enduring connection with the deceased while embarking on a new life.
Grief and feelings of loss do not only happen when someone dies. Grief and loss are experienced in life in many different was, like divorce, job loss, homelessness, loss of relationship, loss of a job or identity, disability, chronic illness diagnosis, incarceration, grief over the childhood one didn't have, loss of a pet, moving, and more. Sometimes these events can cause what is referred to as "disenfranchised grief". As a result, this grief is not typically acknowledged. This leads those grieving to often suffer this grief alone.
Acute grief is that immediate state of loss, while complicated grief or traumatic grief can occur when grief becomes paralyzing. Experiencing multiple losses, or if trauma as part of the loss, we are at greater risk for elongated suffering and it's tragic impact on relationships, work, as well as all corners of life.
Please know that human beings all have different grief experiences - there is no wrong way to grieve. How you are coping is unique to you. We are not "too sensitive" and do not "just get over it". We grieve because we love. Would you want to be any other way?
My approach to grief counseling is as a companion as you take your grief journey. Grief is a heavy weight to bear; you don't need to do it alone.
Teresa Jacobson is a Doctor of Behavioral Health and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Supervisor who is counseling Ohio and Kentucky adults of all ages and life experiences via secure Telehealth/Video visits. A strength-based, person-centered multi-cultural counselor, with an existential philosophy, Teresa can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, calling (513) 206-3026, or visiting https://www.steppingtowardserenity.org.