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Grief Issues

Ruth Bounous, Ph.D., LMSW-ACP

Feelings of grief are responses to losses experienced by all of us at various points throughout our lives. We may grieve the loss of a person whom we love or a pet with whom we have shared our lives.  We may feel grief when treasured possessions are lost such as our home.  We may lose a part of our physical selves through accident or disease and we grieve for that loss.  We may lose an important life role such as worker (at retirement or because of disability) or parent (when a child dies, marries, or moves out of the home). 

It is important to know that we all experience losses of various kinds throughout our lives and that feelings of grief are natural responses to losses.  Some losses can be anticipated and, therefore, we can prepare for them.  Other losses occur by accident or acts of nature that are totally unexpected and we have no opportunity to prepare.

How we deal with grief is determined by our personal and environmental resources when the loss occurs as well as by our family and cultural values.  As a consequence, each of use experiences grief in very individualized and unique ways.  Some of us feel grief as depression and emptiness.  Others feel grief as overwhelming sadness.  Yet others find that their emotions shut down when a loss occurs.

In many cases, feelings of grief ease over a period of time and we are able to continue with our daily lives.  However, for some, the grieving does not seem to diminish over time.  It may become increasingly difficult to get on with our lives.  We may be unable to enjoy other close relationships that we have, to concentrate at work, to have fun or experience joy.  In these instances, personal and environmental resources may not be sufficient to help us move through the grieving process.  Personal counseling can be of great assistance to provide the support and resources needed to emerge from grieving.  Sometimes the support needed is for the counselor to listen and understand.  Sometimes the support needed is recommendations for actions to take.  Such support, added to the inherent strenghts and resilience that we all have, can enable us to come to terms with losses and deal with feelings of grief so that we can go on. 

These are a few books I would recommend: