Dealing with a loss is a process for which the client must be granted ample time. There are essential phases to the mourning-process that can be distinguished clearly, and it is critical that the counsellor evaluates carefully whether the process is developing ‘normally’, or not.

Grief is a reaction to encountering a loss. Along with the full realisation that reality is irreversible, and that the loss is irreplaceable – it can result in acute sorrow and distress. When this emotional pain includes the loss of love, the person experiences the frustration of helplessness and powerlessness – similar to the experience accompanying the amputation of a limb. Along with a consuming longing for lost love, or yearning for the deceased, the pain is very intense and paralysing.

Underlying to this emotional crisis is man’s inherent fear of separation, isolation, rejection, and loneliness.

Grief, therefore, is a reaction to separation whereby the normal perceptual and emotional rhythms have been disturbed and interrupted suddenly.

The nature of the loss has a determining influence on the mourning process. Loss as a result of a divorce is, for the most part, more traumatic than the loss of a lifelong companion, due to the negative connotations involved. Other factors influencing the course of the mourning-process are, for example:

TYPES OF LOSS

Loss can be discussed under two headings:

All losses (both concrete and abstract) can again be divided into three categories,

The last is the most difficult to cope with. Only when a loss has become a reality can dealing with the mourning-process commence and can healing start.

TEN STAGES OF GRIEF

PHASES DURING THE MOURNING-PROCESS

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