THE STAGES OF GRIEF
Theory of Dr. Roberta Temes
Grief as a Normal Life
Three(3) Stages of Grief
Cautions concerning any “stage” theory
Effects of Unresolved
Goals of Mourning
1. Complete the relation
2. Redirect life’s energy toward the future-
Children and Grief
Duration of Grief
Intensity of Grief
Death is a normal life crisis without any formalized
manner for dealing with it. Each
person’s experience is unique to them.
There is no one single best way to work through it.
Grief practices as part of ritualized behaviors.
Death is one of the rites of passages:
9-13 years notice and preparation
1-2 years of preparation time to prepare for the new role
often no preparation
The relationship with the dead person must be brought to an end
Bereaved need reassurances that they are not abnormal, that the
pain will come to an end.
The physical relationship is ended but the emotional
relationship must be completed. It
may take a while. The
relationship is the result of an investment of a lifetime.
The griever must come to feel as if the dead person is no longer
alive and physically available to them in this world.
NO QUICK FIXES !!
NO SHORTCUTS !!
GOAL of GRIEF WORK:
(Freudian Term as a Heuristic device)
Concerning emotional energy, sublimation/repression etc…
PART I: Complete the relationship with the deceased
Grief work on the emotional aspect in order to restore a normal
Grief is Necessary!!
Everyone must experience grief for a return to a healthy life!!
Grief is psychologically healthy and needed – it liberates from
the agony of loss.
Bereavement is not a mental illness, although some behavior is
to no longer FEEL
as if the dead person is still alive in the world and available to you.
PART II: Redirect life’s energy toward the future
Reinvest in human relationships
Future focus on your life in a world without the dead person in it
OF THE GRIEF PROCESS
Numbing-Psychic Closing Off- Dr.
Robert J. Lifton
The mourner is unable to
deal with the full meaning of the death
Unconscious defense mechanisms
take over- for SELF PROTECTION
Defenses are a mechanical
operation, which begins at the moment of learning of the death.
It lasts one to three
weeks (average) but can go on for months
The mourner maintains an emotional resistance to
the event- no gut reactions-suppression of emotions
Mechanical Operations take
over one’s life. The
mourner spends a great deal of time in discharging basic and simple
report feeling: numb; robot-like; suspended animation; like a bad dream;
like in a movie; unreal; “just buggin”
This numbness protects a
person from the overflow of emotions that would disrupt a normal life:
Anger, guilt, loneliness,
helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, fear,
depression------All are REPRESSED
The insulation wears off
and all the repressed feelings come through and often overwhelm the
It is ironic that when the
need for the comfort from the family is the greatest, they are not there,
thinking that all is in order and that the grieved has returned to some
semblance of normalcy. Anger, guilt,
loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness, anxiety, fear, depression all
SELF-PITY also arises: the
feeling that the family just doesn’t understand, can’t possibly
understand, no one can understand what the mourner is experiencing.
Grievers break down and
cry and become emotionally overwrought, distraught
There should be more
concern for those that show no emotion and display no symptoms than for
those that do show signs.
GRIEVING IS HEALTHY.
Those who show their emotions complete their grief work sooner.
Don’t repress or stifle the emotions including anger.
The effects of unresolved grief, especially guilt, can be quite
wishing the dead was still there are all common symptoms
CRYING, DEPRESSION, DESPAIR
SLAPPING- It is the compulsive need to
talk about the circumstances of the death and the dead and one’s
relationship to the dead person. It
is the attempt to incorporate the death into your life as a reality.
ONE is EXEMPT
This stage is similar to a
suspension into an unreal world. Daily
tasks become overwhelming. It lasts 12-24 months. Then a person gradually comes out of it.
They cry less and think less about the death.
They sleep and eat as they did before the death.
They talk less indiscriminately about the death.
The person no longer feels
that the dead loved one is still in the world.
The grieved knows that the loved one will never be forgotten but
that life continues on.
Grievers make commitments
to the future. They begin to
complete the mourning process. Changes
in life have been made to deal with the death.
Sometimes grievers need help (support) from others.
The mourners must expand
their social network. They
need to rejoin life’s activities. They
must take the risk; the risk of living again fully.
Mourners now join in activities.
Widows may need encouragement to do so.
The relationship with the dead loved one is now taking on its
proper form and the mourner is adapting to a proper perspective of the
Grievers could use ROLE
MODELS, people in similar circumstances and situations, as assistants in
their grief work.
There will be REGRESSIONS,
FIXATIONS and ANNIVERSARY REACTIONS.
Bereaved is extremely
susceptible to illnesses.
Real illness- somatizing-psychosomatic process
Imagined Illness- hypochondria
There is a Need for those
who would offer assistance to recognize the stages of grief.
This is easier for those
who have been through the process of grief.
There is a need for bereavement services or supportive acts by
members of a family (large families often have a support network).
Community groups exist that
offer supportive services. Religious
organizations and health institutions often offer bereavement counseling
There are SELF HELP groups
as well. All are offering
both practical and psychological advice and support.
AND THE GRIEF PROCESS RELATED TO DEATH
of Cognitive Development Related to Understanding Death
0-5 years of age: DENIAL
DEATH is seen as TEMPORARY, REVERSIBLE, as a DEPARTURE
II. 5-9 years of
DEATH is seen as an agent or force-Distant from Self
III. over 9 years of
DEATH is seen as IRREVERSIBLE,
of all Bodily Activities
Children grieve differently. They
grieve more deeply. They
start later and often take longer than adults to complete the grief
PERMISSION to Grieve
EXAMPLES of how to Grieve
in order to grieve- provide for their security
Best to discuss the death with children as accurately and as
truthfully as possible. Children
believe what adults tell them and they attempt to understand it given
their own experiences. They
will often return to the adult and ask questions concerning what they
don’t understand or concerning what they have heard that conflicts with
whatever else they have understood. They
may not ask questions directly after hearing the explanations.
They may wait quite a while until some other occasion prompts the
questioning. Adults should be
prepared for this.
Children should not be told lies or be given euphemisms.
They tend to take them to be literally true and this may lead to
Don’t tell children;
Grandma is just sleeping-in a big sleep
Daddy is on a trip- a long trip
Grandpa is up in heaven with God-in the clouds
Grandma is with God now because God takes the “Good”
Now you are the “man” of the house and you must help your
Now you are the “woman” of the house
and you must help your father with the children
Children could benefit from concrete reminders of their loved one.
Children could use role models, discussions with others in similar
circumstances who have survived it.
Children should be encouraged to grieve, to cry and show their
emotions. Adults should do
the same in a manner that children can witness and learn from those adults
how to release their own emotions.
There are organizations and programs to assist people with the
grief process. Those who are
experiencing difficulties with their grief work should be encouraged to
make contact with such groups and programs.