Understanding the process of loss and grief
To undertake this assessment I have looked up the meaning of the words Loss and Grief to help me to begin to understand the process. Loss is defined as being the condition of being deprived or bereaved of something or someone(1) and grief is being defined as a deep mental anguish, as arising from bereavement(2). Grief is a natural response to loss and is a process that occurs over time. It involves a range of feelings, thoughts and behaviours. The most common loss associated with grief is the death of a loved one. Some situations may involve multiple losses like someone with a terminal illness such as cancer. They can mourn and grieve over the loss of a breast, loss of fertility, loss of independence and dignity. Older people may be frequently challenged by the experience of multiple losses also. They may experience the death of friends and their spouse, changes in their work status and the loss of physical abilities and good health. After studying Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross’s five stage model of grief(3), it has given me a wider understanding on how individuals cope with grief. Kubler Ross’s focus was all on death and bereavement although the ‘grief cycle’ is useful for understanding all loss and grief processes. Kubler Ross’s theory is that the grief process will pass through five stages. The five stages being, Denial – A conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information and reality etc. Anger – People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves and/or with others, much more so with the people closet and start blaming others for what happened. Bargaining – Individuals may take a spiritual response and attempt to bargain/negotiate with their God. Depression – Around this stage people may experience social withdrawal, lack of energy and motivation and distance themselves from loved ones. Acceptance – This is a sign of emotional detachment. Individuals come to terms with the reality and adjust. People who are dying though are more likely to come to this stage long before the loved ones they are leaving behind will.
I understand from studying Kubler Ross that she did not intend these series of stages to be rigid or sequential. Some stages may never be visited and some may be revisited. I can see that the grief process is an individual journey and will vary in emotional intensity from one person to the next.
Another theory I have considered is the Task model of William Worden. He describes four “tasks of morning” and implies that the grieving individual has work to do(4). He also states that although there is a change in the living and the dead’s relationship, it is none the less a relationship and allows for the ‘continued presence’ of the deceased in the life of the bereaved. Worden has four tasks that he says an individual will go through to help deal with their grief process(5). Task 1 – Acceptance – To complete this task, the individual has to accept the reality. Task 2 – Work through the pain – To complete this, the individual has the task of acknowledging and expressing feelings. Task 3 – Adjust to the environment – The task here is to adjust via new learning, thinking and experiences. Task 4 – Emotionally relocate – The task is to be ready to participate, function and be ready to enjoy again.
There are similarities between Kubler Ross and Worden and his tasks can also be completed in alternative order. Although, he believes that if mourning is incomplete it can have future limitations on emotional growth. He believes that grieving will encourage change and growth within the individual and that grief is a process and not a state of mind(6). I can understand from this model that Worden believes that only when an individual completes the tasks, they can then invest in their future.
I can apply Dr Elisabeth Kubler Ross’s 5 stage model to a loss that I have recently supported a young person with during time in my placement...
References: 1. Farlex. (2011). Loss. Available: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/loss. Last accessed 13th May 2011.
2. Farlex. (2011). Grief. Available: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/grief. Last accessed 13th May 2011.
3. Business Balls. (2006). Dr Elisabeth Kubler-ross. Available: http://www.businessballs.com/elisabeth_kubler_ross_five_stages_of_grief.htm. Last accessed 13th May 2011.
4. Elizabeth Bingham (2009). Hnc Social Care. London: Heinemann. p102-103
6. Elizabeth Bingham/Cathy Busby (2009). Hnc Social Care. London: Heinemann. p102-103,248-250.
7. Siobhan Maclean (2009). Social care and the law in Scotland. 7th ed. Staffs: Kirwin Maclean Associates Ltd. p42.
8. Elizabeth Bingham/Cathy Busby (2009). Hnc Social Care. London: Heinemann. P82, p250.
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11. Nicola McMurray (2010). Reporting requirements on the death of a young person. North Lanarkshire: North Lanarkshire Council. p3.
12. Nicola McMurray (2010). Reporting requirements on the death of a young person. North Lanarkshire: North Lanarkshire Council. P15.
13. Bereavement Advice Center . (2006). What to do when someone dies.Available: http://www.bereavementadvice.org/what-to-do-first-when-someone-dies/introduction.php. Last accessed 14th May 2011.
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16. Catherine Beyer. (2011). Scientology. Available: http://altreligion.about.com/od/scientology/p/scien_funeral.htm. Last accessed 15th May 2011.
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