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Worden s Four Tasks of Grieving Posted on September 9, 2012 by psyc1543 I have worked with many clients who have

grieved the loss of a relationship or d eath of a loved one. Often, these clients would ask, when will I be over this pai n? Recognizing that grieving is a challenging process, the feelings that accompan y grief are an essential part of the experience. The grieving process and the em otions that accompany it help us come to terms with the loss and learn to integr ate the meaning of the loss into our lives. It can be validating to see elements that mirror our situation in the writing of others. Worden (1991) created Four Tasks of Grieving in order to help provide a framework for the grieving process. This model is flexible, meaning that you ca n adapt it to describe your situation. With all models, it is possible to move b ackward and forward in them, and for someone to encompass aspects of more than o ne stage. It is important to note that grieving is an individual process and the re is no right or wrong way to experience it. As always, I empower clients to us e this material in a way that is helpful to them. To accept the reality of the loss. This task involves coming to terms with the e nd of the person s life or relationship. It is not uncommon for people to feel sho ck or disbelief after they have learned of the loss, or feel as if they are livi ng in a dream or surreal reality. Some people will deny that the loss has taken place in order to protect themselves from intense emotional pain. Rituals such a s funerals can help the person to come to terms with the reality of the loss. To work through the pain of grief. Once the person allows themselves to accept t he irreversibility of the loss, they may experience intense waves of emotions. T hese may include: sadness, longing, nostalgia, emptiness, anger, numbness, and a nxiety. It can be tempting to avoid these feelings through distraction, but allo wing time and space to feel emotions while seeking support can be helpful. One o f my favourite quotes regarding emotions is from Patrick Carnes: feelings are lik e lemon drops, we suck on them until they go away. Our body has a natural process for resolving grief, and if we honour it, we will experience relief. This task can be exhausting, so it is important to engage in basic self-care such as eatin g regular meals, sleeping, and drinking water. To adjust to a world without the deceased (or relationship). Gradually, people s tart to resume their normal routine after a loss. Sometimes people may feel guil ty, believing that they are somehow forgetting or dishonouring the deceased by e ngaging in activities. This stage may involve learning new skills that the berea ved person may have performed. Therefore, it is natural to feel overwhelmed and resentful in this stage if someone is taking on many new responsibilities. The p erson may feel angry at the situation, and blame the decreased or others. Howeve r, this can also be a time of independence, self-discovery, and development. To find an enduring connection with the deceased (or relationship) in the midst of embarking on a new life. When I used to work with clients who had lost lovedones to suicide, they used the term new normal to describe their life now. I like this idea because it acknowledged that life will never be the same without the l oss, but affirmed that a new life is possible. I used to have a negative reactio n to the world, healing, because I thought it implied forgetting about the loss. Now I see the purpose of the word healing, but choose to use the word, integrat ion, to describe the process of keeping connected to the loss. I ve noticed that t he person s relationship to the loss changes over time, but it never ends. In my experience, the process of grief is not linear. This means that someone ma y have moments where they feel stable and days where they feel intense anguish. Having ups and downs is not a sign of failure or that someone is doing something wrong in this process. However, sometimes people can experience complicated grief , where they can get stuck in a certain stage for quite some time. The grieving in evitably impacts people s lives, but people who have difficulty functioning for lo ng periods of time may benefit from professional help.

Christina Schmolke is a registered psychologist who practices in Edmonton, Alber ta. In her practice, she specializes in managing emotions and addiction (includi ng sex and love). For more information, visit Worden, J. W. (1991). Grief counselling and grief therapy: A handbook for the me ntal health practitioner (2nd ed.). London: Springer.