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The Grief Curve

Updated: Aug 3, 2022



Interestingly, although many grief and loss therapy models focuses on dying people, it can also be used to explain the lamenting process of people dealing with loss or saddening situations. The resultant behaviour following a pattern or a curve that offers useful information about the process.



The first reaction to terrible news is denial. The persons become overwhelmed and confused. This behavioural response is a defence mechanism to fight grief. When the shock subsides, individuals start developing anger and blaming others for what is going on. In a bid to gain control, they then enter into a bargaining mode where they try to negotiate themselves out of the harrowing situation. They may ask God to heal their loved ones or make commitments to be better persons.

Nonetheless, reality finally sets in and plunges them into depression. At this level, the full weight of the loss weighs down on them. Finally, after experiencing anguish and sorrow, the individuals accept the loss and learn to live in a new reality.



Notwithstanding, it is imperative to note that people do not follow the stages linearly or fit in one single grief model. While some may go through the five stages, others may experience only one or two. For this reason, therapists must resist imposing a particular model on clients. In this regard, professionals must give room for mourners to grieve in the best way they can. Usually, clients work through grief in a non-linear process. Some may devolve into desperation immediately after receiving the news, while others remain unaffected for a time. The most crucial part of the process is to allow oneself to feel the sorrow and accept the loss. Doing so facilitates healing and enables the individual to move on.

Delayed or Denied Grief

Not surprisingly, some individuals consciously or unconsciously delay their grief for a time. This phenomenon is a self-protective strategy in the face of the aching moment. Typically, delayed or denied grief occurs in different scenarios. For example, keeping busy to avoid dealing with pain delays the grief. Also, following societal expectations to be 'strong' robs one the opportunity to face the loss. Another example of delay happens when the bereaved pushes away sorrow in order to support others.

Additionally, periodical or continuous shocks also preclude the affected person from absorbing the loss. As expected, these delays are not permanent. Usually, the grief process emerges in unpredictable ways at its own time, often through memory triggers.



Cultural Competence

In the increasingly multicultural world, as a therapist we must demonstrate cultural competence. We should be able to navigate through different cultural settings ethically. To guarantee success, therapists must be impartial and avoid imposing their cultural or personal beliefs on clients. Any imposition of a therapist's values is counterproductive and harmful to the therapeutic relationship. For instance, it may prompt patients to 'switch off' during sessions or reject the therapy. Thus, counsellors should do their work without judging or trying to model clients according to their own beliefs and values.


In conclusion, attachment, grief, and loss are inherent part of life. When people lose a person, they have a secure attachment to experience intense sorrow and pain. Different models explain the grief process, but none of them provides a complete picture. People have varying ways of grieving, depending on circumstances and their personalities.


If you feel a this topic has highlighted something close to you that may need working on, why not book an initial therapy consultation using the link below.










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