The issues of grief and loss are going to become a massive tidal wave as we navigate through the impact of this global pandemic. It highlights the nature of grief and loss which is so much more than around death and dying.
Added to this heightened sense of dealing with losses is the myths which abound still in the 21st century and I will speak to some of these. A time-proven approach of managing grief and loss is found in the 4 tasks of mourning created by J W Worden over some 35 plus years of working with those involved with grief and loss. His book Grief Counselling and Grief therapy: a handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner is now in its 5th edition.
Grief and loss is a diverse issue for us all and can encompass many aspects of our lives. In this pandemic is the loss of freedoms once assumed a right and a sense that we may never have “normal” again.
For those with aged friends and family is the escalated loss and grief of the disconnection as they cannot be with them in the homes and they may die alone away from loved ones. The disconnect with the loss of travel and not being able to physically connect with family as we have and not knowing when this may be possible. The loss of health, jobs, security on many levels the list goes on.Complicating this escalated sense of loss on many levels is the myths:
- ✔️ Time heals all wounds
- ✔️ “you will get over it”
- ✔️ You should just be strong and face the loss- toughen up princess..”
- ✔️ You will get back to normal eventually – pertinent to our current situation
Reality is that grief is a cycle even a spiral [see pic] which repeats but can become managed over time but never fully healed. Acknowledging our pain and processing it is part of the healing. Accepting that it will change us and we will be entering a new normal.
A useful tool is J W Worden’s 4 task of mourning. His approach differs to others but is drawn from over 35 plus years of working with grieving souls. The task is identifying that we need to work at it and through it to a new normal. The tasks are in no order as such and it is acknowledged that the processing of grief is a spiral which means revisiting things at different times but important to work at.
Accept the reality of the loss which is a foundation for healing. Denial is the block at this level and until it is accepted people live in a state of anticipation for a return to normal.
Process your grief and pain. This will be a unique experience for everyone which can mean crying, or preoccupation with a hobby or other busy work- this needs acceptance and no judgement.
Adjusting to a world without them or it. This adjustment work in unique ways for all but operates at the internal – how we see ourselves now, external- our environment and circumstances change and spiritual – how we view the world
Find a way to stay connected to what we lost but embarking in a new direction. We can again uniquely remember the past but enjoy the new doors and opportunities opening up- pivoting to a new normal.
If we see someone getting stuck in one of these tasks means they need to get support to move forward. Such support is summed up as follows
- ✔️ Ask how they are feeling- and be ready to listen without any judgement.
- ✔️ Talk about everyday life too – the ball is in their court.
- ✔️ Ask them how you can help.
- ✔️ Encourage
Resources that can also help include
- ✔️ Google MyGrief app
- ✔️ Beyond blue
- ✔️ ACGB Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement
- ✔️ Another resource I recommend from them is in the pic where 4 people share their unique journey through these 4 tasks of mourning.