Before starting the examination of the unit materials and becoming involved in the class activities, I have concerns regarding the discussion of the topic of loss and grief because it is a challenging for not only beginners in counselling but also experienced counsellors. I am oriented to making efforts to examine aspects of the topic in detail in order to gain the in-depth knowledge on the problem of counselling loss.
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I expect that the theoretical material will be easy to understand and learn in spite of the variety of subtopics. However, I also expect problems associated with applying the theoretical concepts, models, and ideas to practice. I will work hard to predict and overcome possible challenges associated with the application of the theoretical principles and rules to the real problematic cases of loss and grief.
At the current stage, I am interested in discussing different types of loss and distinctions in addressing these losses, as well as the selection of appropriate strategies. The problem is in the fact that thinking about a loss, I first focus on the death as a typical example of loss and the associated intense grief, but I understand that in counselling, the idea of loss is wider, and each aspect should be addressed by the professional.
In order to succeed in studying the subject, I will focus on rethinking the theoretical materials and the practical tasks from the personal perspective to overcome the predicted problem with the application. I think that this approach will contribute to my engagement with the topic and deep understanding and analysis of problems. Nevertheless, I have concerns that my perception of the topic as too challenging and problematic can prevent me from realising my potential in studying it. Therefore, I plan to approach the topic as a professional who aims at widening the subjects of interest in the practice in order to deepen the existing knowledge in counselling.
The examination of the study materials and participation in activities made me think that the death remains to be the most challenging loss to work with. However, in spite of the fact that the unit and associated readings provide the information to address such loss as a death, I understand that I can face a lot of challenges in working with clients who discuss themselves as causing the other people’s death and having the feeling of guilt.
In these cases, the grief because of the loss can be enormous and rather complicated to work with. Thus, I can discuss such cases of the loss as challenging for me. In these cases, I should avoid judging and stereotyping, and the approach that can be used to overcome the problem and demonstrate my focus on the client is the concentration on the ways to decrease the person’s feeling of guilt that prevents them from coping with a loss.
Another issue is the work with suicide survivors. This problem is associated with my personal vision of suicide as a sin. As a result, I need to pay more attention to understanding the client’s loss associated with a suicide attempt in order to provide the effective counselling. Therefore, I should address the challenge while focusing on the ethical practices, avoiding prejudice and judgements, and avoiding making conclusions based on my personal vision instead of the client’s perspective. From this point, I should predict the situation when my personal values can influence the client, and I should act ethically while remaining focused on the client’s problem and interests.
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While beginning the examination of the unit materials, I was ready to learn more about different types of losses and various approaches to discussing them. Therefore, the division of losses into developmental, tangible, intangible, primary, and secondary ones provided me with an opportunity to create the framework of the subject.
Having the stereotypic vision that people usually consult counsellors when they experience the grief because of the death of the close person, I was almost shocked to learn the variety of losses that people can experience and overcome almost daily. All these losses are different in their intensity and types, and they can be recognised or not by the other people. However, it is important to note that all these losses affect the person’s emotional state, motivation, intentions, and interactions with the other people.
The knowledge and experience received during the week allowed me thinking more about the variety of persons’ reactions to different losses, including developmental losses, losses associated with the health state, losses of abilities, losses connected with ceasing different kinds of relations, and many others. I received an opportunity to rethink my vision of loss from the perspective of the other people because only an individual that experiences any kind of loss can really understand the variety of emotions he or she feels. Moreover, I realised how the words in the introductory part of the unit about losses as any changes are related to the real life because people tend to move through the stages of grief in spite of the loss category.
Any change that is important for a person can cause him or her to become depressed, feeling grief and anxiety, and needing the help to cope with the problem. These ideas were the main findings associated with my first steps in studying the subject and understanding the principles of the counsellor’s work while addressing the problems of loss and grief. Therefore, I plan to pay more attention to studying these aspects of the topic.
While recognising the necessity to reflect on my own experience of loss and grief, I was concerned. I thought that I had not experienced any significant loss to write about. However, having reviewed the materials on the types of loss, I concluded that a person’s life is full of significant, troubling, and even unconscious losses that cause an individual to overcome them through the stages of grief that can be different in their duration. The loss experience that has recently caused me to cope with the grief stages is an end of the friendship, and it needs to be described and discussed in terms of the associated grief theories.
I had a close childhood friend with whom we interacted during a long period of time, and when we focused on our education, we did not stop communicating because these relationships provided the feeling of support and safety. However, one day, my friend sent me a message saying that we could not communicate anymore. There were no any explanations, and my messages or phone calls remained to be unanswered.
I suppose that the spouse had the impact on my friend and asked her to cease the friendship, but I can only make assumptions. The situation can be discussed as a typical one, but the problem is in the fact that my feelings associated with the case can be regarded now as my coping with a loss and stages of grief. I was shocked because of the unexpected end of the friendship and frustrated because of the inability to receive the explanations or discuss the problem openly.
My experience of loss was influenced by my inability to accept the fact that the situation of the end of friendship was a real and unexpected loss for me that caused a range of negative feelings and emotions. I was not ready to acknowledge the fact that the relationships could not be restored. Therefore, I initiated the conversations with the friend, but I did not receive any answers and provoked the negative reactions of the friend’s spouse. As a result, I was also depressed because of the negative attitudes of the people involved in the case. Moreover, the important factor that influenced my experience was the feeling of guilt.
Having no answers regarding the reasons to cease the friendship, I was sure that the problem could be in my behaviour, and I needed to do something in order to change the situation and make an apology. Still, I was deprived of this opportunity. As a result, I could not cope with the grief effectively, and my feelings became not so intense because of time, but not because of my acceptance of the loss. At the current stage, I understand that any loss should be recognised, and it can be addressed from the counsellor’s perspective in order to minimise the negative experience. Currently, I regret because of the inability to resolve the situation, and this factor still influences my attitude to the loss. I should analyse my stages of grief one more time in order to accept the changes in my relations with the friend.
The knowledge received on the loss and grief theories allows me to analyse my experience in the context of them in order to have the in-depth understanding of the problem and find the ways of addressing it. My loss can be discussed as tangible and an interpersonal one (Valentine, 2006; Winokuer & Harris, 2012). According to Parkes’s grief model, I developed complications while experiencing the feelings associated with the loss and had the acute grief (Parkes, 2009).
So, I searched the ways to cope with the grief and experienced anxiety and guilt, but it seems that I failed to cope with it successfully because I did not accept the loss completely. Parkes’s theory is based on Bowlby’s Attachment Theory that I chose to apply it to my case as well. According to Bowlby, the attachment theory explains the loss associated with breaking the emotional bonds connecting people, and the model of coping with the grief includes such stages as the shock and denial, protest, despair, and re-organisation (Corr & Corr, 2007; Servaty-Seib, 2004).
I was shocked by the necessity of breaking the bonds, protested against the situation while trying to change it and communicate with the friend, felt despair because of being opposed, and chose to stop thinking about the loss. Thus, the stage of the re-organisation was not experienced by me fully, and I can state that I am at this stage even now.
The other model to apply to my loss is the Dual Process Model. It is also based on the principles of the Attachment Theory, but it allows rethinking the grief stages from the perspective of the person’s readiness to recover from the loss. Stroebe and Schut (2008) determined the ‘loss orientation’ and ‘restoration orientation’ during the grief process, and I should state that I followed the ‘loss orientation’ during a long period of time, and only now I am ready to avoid painful thoughts about the situation and accept the changes in my relations to follow the ‘restoration orientation’. For me, Stroebe and Schut’s Dual Process Model is most appropriate to demonstrate my story of coping with the loss.
Having analysed my loss experience in terms of traditional and contemporary theories and my personal feelings, I can state that these conclusions are important to determine my approach to counselling. The reason is that I have recognised the role of the final stage in the grief models. Theorists state that all people cover the same stages while coping with the grief. The stages of the loss acceptance and restoration or reorganisation can be discussed as most important in order to become sure that the person coped with the grief completely. Therefore, in my practice, I will pay much attention to helping the clients accept their losses, recognise the associated feelings, understand the necessity of reorganising their thoughts and visions regarding the loss, and apply the appropriate strategies.
Corr, C. A., & Corr, D. M. (2007). Historical and contemporary perspectives on loss, grief and mourning. In D. E. Balk, C. Wogrin, G. Thornton & D. Meagher (Eds.), ADEC handbook of thanatology (pp. 131–142). Northbrook, IL: Association for Death Education and Counseling.
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Parkes, C. M. (2009). Love and loss: The roots of grief and its complications. London, UK: Routledge.
Servaty-Seib, H. L. (2004). Connections between counseling theories and current theories of grief and mourning. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 26(2), 125-145.
Stroebe, M. S., & Schut, H. (2008). The dual process model of coping with bereavement: Overview and update. Grief Matters, 1(11), 4-10.
Valentine, C. (2006). Academic constructions of bereavement. Mortality, 11(1), 57-78.
Winokuer, H. R., & Harris, D. L. (2012). Principles and practices of grief counseling. New York, NY: Springer Publishing.