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Understanding Grief & Loss
Emily Allaire, LMSW
Grief Counselor
P| 319-272-2002
[email protected]
Our personal experiences shape
our understanding
• What do I know about grief?
• What have my own experiences with grief
been?
• What have I learned?
Grief vs Mourning
• Grief: Internal thoughts and feelings
• Mourning: Outward expression of grief
Worden’s Tasks of Mourning
1) Accept the reality of the loss
2) Process the pain and grief
3) Adjust to life without the deceased
4) Maintain a connection to deceased while
exploring a new life
Symptoms of grief
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Physical
– Sleep disturbance
– Shortness of breath
– Tightness in throat
– Physical distress
– Weight change
Emotional
– Sadness
– Anger
– Guilt
– Anxiety
– Loneliness
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Behavioral
– Forgetfulness
– Searching for deceased
– Wandering aimlessly
– Worrying more about others,
wanting to make them feel
comfortable
– Needing to retell the story of the
loved one’s death
– “Suicidal” talk
Disenfranchised grief
“Unspeakable” deaths
Suicide/Homicide
Sudden
Pet loss
AIDS
Traumatic deaths
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Grief is different
Painful
Struggle to help
Struggle to understand
Calendar dates
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Holidays
Birthdays
Anniversaries
Date of death
Tuesday
Healing vs Curing
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Grief is ongoing
Processing
Nothing to “get over”
Must move through
Avoiding prolongs the process
What NOT to say
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I understand
I know
You will survive
He/She is better off
Why are you still sad?
It’s been a year
At least you have another
child
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How can I help?
What do you need?
You need counseling
Get over it
Have you started dating?
At least you’re young
This will pass
Everything happens for a
reason
How to be supportive
SAY
• I care
• Tell me about him/her
• What’s your favorite
memory?
• You are in my thoughts
• Want to do lunch?
• It’s ok to cry
• How are you doing
today/right now?
DO
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Listen
Practice patience
Acknowledge dates
Acknowledge deceased
Bring over a meal
Share memories
Accept “no” for an answer

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