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  • Writer's pictureJacqueline Jouannet

Thinking about loss

Of the many models of grief available, the one I personally find most helpful is this; the dual process model of grief, created by Stroebe and Schut. Grief and loss, whatever their cause exist within the context of daily life and the bereaved person moves between two apparently opposing states; The 'loss orientated' state is where the work of grieving takes place. Mourning (the expression of grief) takes place in this zone and the loss is fully experienced in force. This realm also involves the practical changes involved in bereavement or loss including admin, sorting, moving, breaking ties and the resistance to this work.

On the other side we see restoration orientated work. The 'getting on with everyday life', distraction, avoidance of grief and putting oneself 'back together again' after a loss. The model illustrates the oscillation between the two states and this certainly has personal resonance for me. The sudden, sweeping wave of sorrow that can take your breath away can be swiftly followed by an apparent greater acceptance and the ability to do something forward looking or distracting for a while...only to be floored again by the enormity of loss.

The model shows the consuming nature of loss in the initial stages with both zones taking up almost all the space in everyday life. I like to imagine the illustration changing with time so that the two ovals shrink a little, allowing more of everyday life experience to be fully realised as a person adjusts to their new reality.

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