Table of Contents
Loss and grief are usual phenomena. Every individual at some point in their life goes through this process. Bereavement can be defined as being “robbed” or “deprived” of something that is valuable. It also refers to the death of a significant person. Grieving refers to the psychological components of bereavement, the feelings evoked by a loss that is significant, especially the suffering entailed when a loved one dies. This paper will address a case study of a person who is facing grief and loss of a loved one (wife). Various theories of grief and loss will be covered based on the client, challenges as well as the how the counselor’s personal situation affects the process while working with the client will be covered. Issues around loss and grief are very sensitive to the client who has other issues and this will be handled in the paper.
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Grief and Loss Issues
A heightened extent of sadness is one of the components experienced when one is grieving. At this stage, Barry is still experiencing sadness because of his wife’s death. The case of Barry experiencing sadness exists, as there is nothing that can be done concerning the death of his wife. When an individual experiences this type of emotion, there is the likelihood of experiencing rage, low moods and feeling helpless. The sadness in some cases helps in quick recovery. There is a shift of attention and an individual is able to adjust in the course of time. An individual can also become ruminative, which is dangerous if the handling of memories is not possible (Rainer, 2013). Anyone experiencing sadness requires emotional support from themselves and from other people. Grieving is an important component in terms of psychological health. Thus, working with Barry involves explaining to him that it is a normal thing for a person to be sad when there is a loss of someone they love. Experiencing this kind of emotion, Barry will be able to accept the loss of his wife. Sadness is perceived to be a slow emotion; however, it has the ability to slow psychological impacts on the affected individual. Sadness can pose a great problem when the griever dwells more on reflection (Kay, 2012). While addressing Barry’s case it’s important to show compassion, empathy. Barry will be able to recognize his feelings and understand that his response is normal and natural.
Sadness, fear, joy and anger are examples of primary emotions in humans. When one is experiencing anger, it is an indication that something is definitely wrong. Anger is experienced by an individual when one makes a decision to put to an end to something that is perceived to be a threat (Thompson & Stevenson, 2017). Like any other form of emotions, anger too varies in terms of intensity. A person experiencing anger might have difficulties in processing information in the right way. One might lose the sense of objectivity and thoughtfulness. Anger helps the person in grief to individuate (Rainer, 2013). It provides a sense of self-protection to the person grieving thus indicating its differences from rage. Rage is perceived as the inability of a person to manage the various life experiences (Thompson & Stevenson, 2017. Anger can control the process of thinking as it is experienced when a person feels threatened by something and there is an expectation that there is something that can be done about it. In grief, anger exists because of multiple causes, which brings in the state of helplessness because of the loss of loved one. Anger can be so complicated in the sense that an individual is bound to make very dangerous decisions. Through anger, much attention is focused on the loss and the person concentrates more on the confrontation of the loss (Sofka, 2012). While working with Barry, it’s possible to tell his state of anger based on how he could answer questions differently from what is being asked. He could also completely refuse to answer some questions. when this occurs, it’s important to address him calmly and make him know that whatever he is experiencing is understood by the counselor. he should understand that it’s very okay for someone in his situation to feel angry and even helpless since it’s part of the healing process (Sofka, 2012). The counselor should ask him open questions such as what bothers him the most and note whether there is a positive or negative response.
Guilt can be termed as moral reasoning. Guilt is personal as an individual is able to focus on certain actions that are employed to repair a behaviour. Guilt guides good behaviours and one avoids actions that could hurt others (Kauffman, 2013). Guilt relates to sadness where both focus on a particular situation for evaluation. A griever believes that something should have been done concerning the death of a loved one (Harris & Bordere, 2016). When an individual fails to help another person in any way, they experience guilt. The griever experiences some memories of the things that were not accomplished. Most people have trouble in dealing with the issue of guilt (Stroebe, Schut & Van den Bout, 2013). However, guilt can be beneficial to the survivor they are able to examine themselves on the good, bad and the ugly happenings during the past relationship with the deceased. In the case of Barry, he should be advised that there was no harm in experiencing guilt depending on what he believed is right or not. The counselor needs to reflect on his feelings by understanding his emotions. This will help him to recover quickly since it will show that he is being cared for and they understand his situation.
Hope eliminated cases of despair and fear where the bereaved beliefs in a better future (Kauffman, 2013). There are rare cases where the bereaved feel a complete sense of hopelessness although there might be cases of desperation. It comes as a personal decision to be hopeful and have a positive thinking. In the situation where Barry lost his wife, he should be advised on the need of being hopeful. Barry should be positive to the counselor’s advice with the hope of fast recovery. He needs to be encouraged to focus on the future and has positive thoughts.
Theories of Loss and Grief
There are various theories that explain bereavement. Theory of attachment is one of them where one is able to develop affection bonds. Grief is a normal response to separation and the theory help one to understand the anger experienced by the griever brings relief (Klass, Silverman & Nickman 2014). These normal reactions are expected as they help an individual to cope with the psychological impacts. Grieving and mourning have been viewed as the processes whereby the bereaved individual adjusts to the reality of their loss, enabling them to disengage from the deceased and reinvest in new relationships. It is important to understand that every individual has an individual response to their specific loss. The theoretical concepts of what is normal regarding bereavement can assist in predicting a greater risk of complicated bereavement and even diagnosis of pathological, unresolved grief (Winokuer & Harris, 2012). In this case, there should be a proper understanding of how Barry is responding to the loss. Issues to do with attachment to his wife should be looked into so that they are used in handling his situation. According to John Bowlby’s attachment theory (1969-80), there are four characteristics of attachment including proximity maintenance, safe haven, secure base, and separation distress. As a therapist, it should be possible to determine some of the attachment issues that the client has such as anxiety and the desire to be near his lost wife and teach him how to cope by finding new relationships and adjusting to his current situation.
According to Bowlby (1973), attachment happens early in life and provides security and survival for the person. When these are broken or lost, people will go through distress and emotional disturbances like anxiety, crying and anger. It is expected that Barry is still undergoing the phases of mourning for his wife which include numbing, yearning and searching, disorganization, and reorganization (Silverman & Klass, 1996). For a therapist, it is important to identify the stages that he is currently into and allow him to go through it. He should be encouraged that it is a normal occurrence and he will be fine. Bereaved people will often move back and forth from one task to the other during their grief. He should be encouraged to cherish the memories that he shared with his wife, what he thinks are the best memories, allow him to cry and assure him that he will be fine. He should accept the reality of the loss of and adjust to an environment whereby his wife is missing.
Bereaved individuals usually feel guilty, hopeless, and sad and can end up with a number of psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. Counseling helps a lot to bring the bereaved individuals get back to their lives. In this case, Barry requires a lot of resources, support and empathy towards the loss of his wife. He should be assured that he should not feel guilty about the loss and there is no need to be sad. Encouraging him to look at life positively and getting him a grief support group where he can share his experiences with other bereaved persons will be of great help to him (Bowlby, 1973). Sharing with other individuals helped him to understand that he is not the only one with a loss and thus will enable him to cope better.
Stroebe and Schut (1999), talk about the dual process as a dynamic model where the bereaved person shifts between loss orientation and restoration. They suggest that a grieving individual will focus on the restoration plans or activities when focusing on the loss becomes too much to bear. Both of these orientations are sources of stress, burden, and associated with a lot of distress and anxiety. When working with him, coping tasks should not aim at returning his previous levels of functioning but should rather be to negotiate meaningful life without the deceased (Stroebe & Schut, 1999). It’s important that as a bereaved person, he adapts to his loss by working through the phases, stages and tasks of grief. For instance, he should be let to come to terms with the fact that the loss has occurred before handling the emotional impacts associated with the loss.
Barry can also cope with his bond by a continuation of bonds. The work of Klass et al., (1997) challenged the conventional thinking that the purpose of grieving involves reconstitution and autonomous individual that could have left the deceased behind and form new attachments, that is “break the bonds” with the deceased. The bereaved do not require forgetting and leaving the deceased behind but should integrate them into their future lives by establishing a continuing bond (Klaas et al., 1997). He should be helped to keep his bond with his wife by thinking about what they used to do together, visiting the graveyard and having memorials for her. Klass and his colleagues argue that the purpose of grieving is to maintain an ongoing bond that is compatible with other new continuing relationships with the deceased.
It’s also important to understand the family dynamic of the client in this situation. Understanding the dynamics in the family is very important in looking for possible tensions between the members and then carrying out an assessment of how the members could influence or be influenced by others and also in understanding what the loss means to each member of the family (Bowlby, 1973). In this case, Barry has no family members that can take care of him. His only surviving daughter is an executive who will not have time for him. We do not know of any other family members since he has been staying with his dog all this time. In cases of loss, the family is usually the important provider of socialization, social control and support (Bowlby, 1973). Families that have fragile relationships, divergent beliefs and secrets may find it difficult to adjust, while those with frequent contact, and willingness for every member to share how the feel finds it easier to adjust. In this case, Barry does not have close family members that can help him hope, not even his own daughter who is always busy. He might find it difficult to cope with the loss because there is lack of family support. In this case, the counselor can help him find people that he can talk to. This will include friends and the community where he stays and while he is in hospital, a support group with other patients will help him deal with the loneliness.
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Other issues and challenges
Barry is going through grief and loss but also has other underlying issues. He doesn’t have a close family, lacks friends, has suffered a stroke and cannot take care of himself. This means that he will find it difficult to cope with his situation. While talking to him, he needs to be reassured that he will get the best care even though it is a difficult situation. Underlying problems such as the stroke affects greatly his current situation. He mind find coping to be difficult but with comfort, a show of concern and devising the best treatment plan for him will make the situation better. He needs to be rehabilitated for his stroke so that he can be able to carry out a number of activities on his own. As a counselor, emotions can influence the help that is given to a client. This is because having a sick father in the hospital might result in not making the best judgment and think clearly concerning his situation.
In sum, grief and loss in a common occurrence that every individual goes through. People react and cope with grief differently. Grief can also be complicated by underlying situations such as illness, lack of supporting the family and social support. A grieving person should be supported and made to understand that it’s a normal occurrence and that they should not feel guilty about it. They should be offered to cushion, supportive therapy and address their concerns in the most empathetic manner. Personal situations for the counselor can also affect how they interact with the bereaved and they should always strive to not let this interfere with the counseling process.
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