No matter how extensive your education and training is in dealing with grievers, you will frequently be asked questions that you have never been asked before. This is very understandable! Each loss and relationship is unique. While there may be similarities between some losses, they are never the same, thus each situation must be approached from a different perspective.
I have been working with grievers for over 40 years and have yet to encounter two situations that were alike. Whether the losses were related to death, estrangement, moving, change in job, change in school or any other “relationship,” each situation and question was unique in and of itself. That is one of the things that makes this type of work so interesting: no two days are alike.
Early in my career, I spent most of my time simply helping people deal with their immediate challenges after their loss experience. These people were in the moment of crisis and I was there to help. It wasn’t until I started supporting grievers in moving beyond loss, to deal with a future that was far different than the one they had planned, that I sometimes found myself searching for answers to their unique and specific questions. Often the losses that they found overwhelming were ones that I had never before encountered or considered.
I feel pretty confident that others of you reading this article have faced similar moments of searching for the right answers. I’m proud to say that I never guessed at the best answer, when I was in doubt. I told those with such questions that I wanted to consult with others who had greater expertise, to make sure that I gave them the best direction possible. I then did so and followed up with those grievers as soon as was possible. I found that they always appreciated that I cared enough about their issues that I was willing to seek outside assistance. I encourage any and all grief recovery professionals to do this as well. Grievers are generally getting enough poor assistance from well meaning, but misinformed, relatives and friends. As professionals we never want to run the risk of offering misinformation as well.
Expanding your information base
This is one reason why I was excited about the publication of “Moving Beyond Loss,” by Russell Friedman and John James. This book is filled with answers to the most often asked questions by grievers. It covers questions for a wide number of losses and the various challenges that each present, including helping parents answer their children’s questions with correct and positive information. It even deals with the topics of guilt and blame that plague some grievers. The answers it offers are not only direct and complete, but also presented in feeling words that deal with grief as an emotional response to loss, rather than as an intellectual concern. This book is a must read for grief and loss professionals.
Those who have been certified as Grief Recovery Specialists through The Grief Recovery Institute always have the option of seeking professional assistance, at no charge, through the Institute. This is part of their licensing agreement. The information in this book is yet another way of expanding their knowledge in offering grievers the best possible assistance. Those who have taken the time to read and study the questions and answers covered in this book have found themselves to be far better prepared to deal with situations with which they were previously unfamiliar.
It’s safe to say that grievers are often a forgotten part of our society. Their wounds are not obvious to the casual observer and their emotional needs are frequently ignored. While no one would ever tell someone with a broken leg to “be strong and get over it,” those with broken hearts are regularly offered this suggestion. “Moving Beyond Loss” offers grief professionals the necessary tools to provide the correct and most supportive information to grievers when they need it the most. It is a valuable part of your “continuing education” as a grief and loss professional. Continuing to expand our knowledge in helping those dealing with loss is what makes us true professionals.