On Grief and Grieving

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The last two days were quite unusual for me.  I had a talk with not one, not two… but three friends who are all experiencing the same thing: grief.  That by itself is unusual. But even more unusual is the fact that all of them are grieving the loss of two close family members.

As a Clinical Psychologist when faced with clients who are grieving the loss of loved ones, I normally move to the professional side of me that is focused on counseling, educating, inspiring, teaching, coaching, influencing and motivating clients how to deal effectively with their grief. I teach them cognitive, emotive, behavioral and process oriented strategies and techniques that are geared to help them to transition through the grief process and stages.

However, when my friends call, it suddenly becomes more personal. And it is more difficult to become the professional. Even though I am a clinical psychologist, I ask myself… “Are they asking the psychologist or are they talking with their friend? Or do they expect some of both?”

This presents a struggle since it is difficult, particularly in these situations to be a friend and psychologist at the same time. From the professional perspective – there may be an issue of ethics… I cannot serve a dual role. I am not supposed to serve as friend and clinician. From the personal perspective there is also a struggle… I cannot see my friends hurt emotionally and not help. What do I do?

Well… having gone through this type of struggle as long as I have been a clinician, I have developed a few strategies that helps me to help them. I refer them to some of the same resources that I useto prepare myself to help others.

Some of the most powerful resources that are available to help people who are grieving are the writings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  Her last book, On Grief and Grieving, penned with David Kessler just before her death in 2004 cannot be described as anything less than a treasure for those who are grieving.

According to Marianne Williamson, “Elisabeth Kuebler-Ross left us one last gift, and it’s a masterpiece. Having illumined the subject of death, she has now illumined the subject of grief. She and grief expert David Kessler have written a modern classic, the kind of book that all of us will want to keep on our bookshelves because we know it speaks to our deepest hearts.”

And Stepahnie Manley in her review of On Grief and Grieving, said that “this book goes through in depth the stages of grieving and the misconceptions that we may have about those stages. For example, acceptance does not mean, we are ok, and moving on without our loved one. In reality, it is knowing they have passed away and adjusting our lives around that loss, and guess what, you don’t have to like moving on. I like how this book helps you explore the palette of grief that we all have with the deaths of loved ones. “

Manley continues that, “I honestly found myself weeping and remembering the deaths of my loved ones that I had recently lost. It was refreshing to read that the depth of the loss of my loved ones was normal, healthy, and even healing. This book is a real blessing in the healing process of the death of a loved one.”

On Grief and Grieving gives readers sage advice and counseling in abundance. For example, the authors contend that, “If you do not take the time to grieve, you cannot find a future in which loss is remembered and honored without pain.” This is powerful and exhorts people to follow the clear steps and process that they outline in the book. These steps are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. On Grief and Grieving applies these stages to the grieving process and weaves together theory, inspiration, and practical advice, including sections on sadness, hauntings, dreams, isolation, and healing.

For those who are grieving, I lovingly suggest that you get On Grief and Grieving here.

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