The Individual and Family CHOICES Program

Making the world a better person, one family at a time.

Grief and Loss Issues

A simple definition of "grief" (as defined by John James and Russell Friedman in When Children Grieve) is the conflicting feelings caused by a change or an end in a familiar pattern of behavior.  


All of the clinicians at CHOICES have been trained in techniques meant to resolve traumatic loss and grief issues. In addition our Grief Specialist Evelyn Wald is available for ongoing consultation.

We are reminded of Stages of Grief by Elizabeth Kubler- Ross and have adapted them to the current situation:


Denial: THUNDERSTRUCK! This CAN?T be happening to us!

Anger: How DARE this happen to us! It feels like a storm in your heart.

Bargaining: IF only?IF only?IF only? It?s trying to make sense out of NON-sense.

Depressions: How very SAD that this is happening. Very stormy periods of emotion.

Acceptance: This HAS happened to us. What opportunities for growth and healing might be possible?


In loss we often have to relearn ourselves and the world. Grief affects every part of us.


            Emotional ? there can be a roller coaster of intense feelings including disbelief,

                                    numbness, confusion, helplessness, anger, shock...

            Cognitive ? disorganized thoughts; easily distracted; endless ?whys?; confusion; ?it

                                    all seems like a bad dream??

            Spiritual - questioning beliefs, values and the meaning of life?

            Behavioral ? sleep disturbances; changes in eating habits; social withdrawal;

                                    frequent crying or angry outbursts?

            Physical ? headaches; constipation or diarrhea; upset stomach?


Here are some helpful things people can do:


o   Acknowledge the loss(es) and allow yourself to grieve

o   Create time and space to mourn your loss(es)

o   Be present to one another

o   Be compassionate with yourself and others

o   Tell your story to others. Share your feelings with others.

o   Listen to the stories of suffering strangers


The Information below is from ?New life and meaning is born out of befriending pain and suffering.?  By Alan Wolfelt, The Handbook for Companioning the Mourner


The Tenets of Companioning the Bereaved


One:    Companioning is about being present to another person?s pain; it is not about

            taking away the pain.

 Two:   Companioning is about going to the wilderness of the soul with another human

            being; it is not about thinking you are responsible for finding the way out.

Three:  Companioning is about honoring the spirit; it is not about focusing on the intellect.

Four:  Companioning is about listening with the heart; it is not about    analyzing with the


Five:    Companioning is about bearing witness to the struggles of others; it is not about

            judging or directing these struggles.

Six:      Companioning is about walking alongside; it is not about leading.

Seven: Companioning means discovering the gifts of sacred silence; it does not mean filling

            up every moment with words.       

Eight:  Companioning is about being still; it is not about frantic movement forward.

Nine:   Companioning is about respecting disorder and confusion; it is not about imposing

            order and logic.

Ten:    Companioning is about learning from others; it is not about teaching them.

Eleven: Companioning is about curiosity; it is not about expertise.



The following quote is from Margaret Wheatley's book,: Turning to One Another - Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future


"We are living in a time of increased human sorrow. How we respond to so much suffering is our choice. We can feel hopeless and overwhelmed by this world; we can turn away and just live life the best we can. Or we can learn to bear witness. We can't change the human experience, but we can turn toward, not away from, those struggling. Bearing witness is standing and patiently listening to stories I'd rather not hear." (that last sentence is paraphrased)