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Monday, 16 June 2014

5 Myths about Grief and Loss

While reviewing the final details for our course I was struck by how many myths are still around in this field! Elisabeth Kubler-Ross died a decade ago but despite both her own renunciation of some of her earlier theories and extensive subsequent research, many myths remain.

Here are 5 of them:

Myth 1. ROSS’ STAGES OF GRIEF MODEL WAS DEVELOPED THROUGH HER WORK WITH THE BEREAVED.It wasn’t. It was based on her observation of terminally ill patients preparing for death. There is still no research evidence to support the idea that this is a process that those experiencing loss go through – let alone HAVE to go through - in order to heal.
During our unique training we provide up to date alternative explanations of clients’ loss experiences.

This is not so. Over 20 years ago Hoeksema demonstrated that over half of those bereaved through the death of a loved one through cancer had significantly moved on automatically without help after 6 months. Does this mean no one needs help? Of course not, but it does mean that we need to be careful who we offer help to and when. There is already some evidence that it can be damaging if done incorrectly and at the wrong time.
In our training we help you identify when, where and how to offer help.

Not necessarily. Events per se do not make us feel bad. It’s the way we think about events that do. We know from the process of selective attention that things can get bigger rather than going away. There is a real danger in confronting grief that it can actually become bigger and more overwhelming. So what’s the alternative? It’s certainly not denial, but it’s different from what you been taught before.

Myth 4. THE BIGGEST RISK FOR THOSE WHO EXPERIENCE GRIEF IS DEPRESSION.Low mood is a risk but suicidal risk should be in the forefront of all practitioners’ minds. As the saying goes – the big problem with your own death is that you can’t learn from it. Are you on the lookout for suicidal risk in your grief and loss clients? Do you know how to assess such risk? We’ll teach you how on the training day.

Myth 5. ANGER IS THE MOST COMMON SUPPRESSED EMOTION IN GRIEF AND ITS EXPRESSION SHOULD BE FACILITATED.In fact it’s no more common than a range of other emotions following loss including emotions like relief and gratitude. And when it does show itself, we have extremely good evidence now that facilitating its expression can make the problem far worse. Anger needs to be dealt with in a very specific way that we will explore in our training.

We’ve packed a lot into a single days training in order to address all the above issues and more. It is a fast moving day and I believe it will change your thinking about how to deal with grief and loss forever.

Paul Grantham

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