A Grief Support Blog

This blog will allow you the opportunity to acquire both support and guidance after experiencing a significant loss.

Using The Grief Recovery Method in Ongoing Relationships

Most grievers never search out a Grief Recovery Specialist until they are overwhelmed by a loss that has impacted their life. It is at this point that they see the need for help in dealing with their emotional pain.

In reality, we all deal with grief on a daily basis, but often do not identify the issues we face as grief. Every change we experience in life has elements of grief attached to it. Even things we identify as positive changes can bring with them grief, because we are taking on behavior patterns that may not have been part of how we handled life in the past.

Rather than waiting for grievers to come to us in moments of crisis, we have an often missed opportunity in offering them recovery actions that they can take to improve their daily lives. Using the Grief Recovery Method in ongoing relationships can be an extremely positive way to keep these relationships fresh and complete, and limit the emotional impact we face if they do come to an end, whether it be by death or separation caused by a move. It can also help to keep simple misunderstandings and miscommunications from developing to the level of leading to estrangement and even divorce. The big question is in how to communicate this to the general public.

There are two ways to do this

First, when you are working with grievers who come to you to deal with a painful loss, take them through all of the steps of the program so that they can take recovery action. At the conclusion of the program emphasize that they do not need to wait until they are actually facing another loss to utilize what they have learned. This is built into the material in Chapter 13 of “The Grief Recovery Handbook.” The problem is that most grievers are so emotionally relieved after completing their work on that previous loss that they fail to study this chapter with the same level of intensity that they did the “working” chapters. This is where you need to remind them of how painful that loss was, at the beginning of the program, and ask them if this is something that they again wish to face in the future. It is very doubtful any of them are looking forward to going through that same experience again. Let them know that to prevent this from happening, it is essential that they utilize these same tools, not only on other losses that they have experienced, but also in their ongoing relationships. The key to staying recovered is not only in dealing with any new bits of incompleteness in that relationship they already addressed, but also in every relationship in their lives. It is about creating a new habit of “being recovered.”

Many of you may already be doing this with those people you serve in groups or on a one-on-one basis. The reality of things is that many of those with whom you work with will not continue to take action once they are out of this structured setting. I have found that to be the case myself. This is the perfect opportunity to introduce the GRM Group Alumni Format that you will find as the last item on the Support Group Format Guide on the Specialist’s section of the GRM website. If you have not already looked at this item, it is a four week program for those who have already attended an eight or 12 week group. This will help in instilling the concept of staying recovered into their belief system.

A second way to promote using the Grief Recovery Method in ongoing relationships is to create a short presentation that you can use with people who do not identify themselves as grievers. You might consider civic clubs, chamber of commerce luncheons, and church groups, just to name a few options.

When you speak to these groups, rather than focusing on grief and loss, instead talk about those moments of often unidentified grief in daily life and relationships. You might inquire if they have ever had a minor argument with someone that was left unsettled. Ask them if they ever had such a moment with a friend or spouse. Then ask them if it still comes to mind on occasion. Most will say yes. Then compare this to a small pebble in their shoe as something that is a minor annoyance at first, but then can become a source of major irritation. Let them know that you have a proven method for dealing with such things in ongoing relationships and that, rather than wait until they have a “shoe full of pebbles,” you can offer them tools to deal with these issues before they have a chance to balloon into major ones. Remind them that these little issues are often the things that are thrown back at others when new conflicts develop.

While these people may not readily identify as grievers, this will give you a way to introduce grief recovery skills that they can use on a daily basis. When they actually come to your Grief Recovery Method Support Group, they may very well discover that there is a major loss that deserves attention. They most likely would have never dealt with this loss, which they had never identified as impacting their lives, had you not approached them in this manner. The other possibility is that they might choose to work on an ongoing relationship that they see as a positive one, and now make it better.

Many Grief Recovery Specialists are searching for ways to pass on their knowledge to others, but find it challenging to actually get this information out to grievers. In truth, everyone is grieving on some level over something. The problem is that when they hear the word grief, they often think of death. By approaching this subject as a tool to make every relationship even better, you have a way to reach these people who might not otherwise listen to what you have to say. For you to be effective in your work with grievers, it is essential that you employ the principles you learned in Grief Recovery in all of your relationships as well. Most of you are probably doing this already, but the more you practice, not only will you be better in supporting the people you serve, but the happier you will be as well! I can honestly say that there are no relationships in my life that I have not addressed with the Grief Recovery Method. I even practice these principles with servers in restaurants and flight attendants. It is part of the Belief System. The length of a relationship is not a determinant of the value to using these techniques. I have found that true happiness comes from never having unfinished business with any emotional relationship!


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Thank you Steve. I too use GRM "all the time"! Well, ok, NOT all the time, but FREQUENTLY. Not only in personal relationships,but, even as you say, in day-to-day routines with the general public. I have used it interactions with neighbors, the local PTA president, and even on people I do not know personally, such as politicians. I appreciate that you, who have so much experience, are addressing many of our questions, and giving suggestions such as this one. Peace, Ethel-Anne
Thank you!

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