This essay explores my experience of loss and grief after the death of my father in 1997 and how my grieving process relates to theories put forward to explain and deal with bereavement. Hall (2014) suggests that “loss and grief are fundamental to human life”..Harvey (1998) perceives loss as a life experience relating to something irreversible and emotions towards what is lost. Hall (2014) defines grief as “the response to the loss in its totality â€“ including its physical, emotional, cognitive, behavioural and spiritual manifestations â€“ and as a natural and normal reaction to loss”.
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It has been argued that in order to understand grief it is important to understand the role of attachment. Mallon (2008) observed that in order to have loss there must be attachment. As a result many theories of attachment play a major role in bereavement counseling. Bowlby (1980) emphasised the role of attachment in relationships. He suggests that a child’s emotional growth will be compromised if the child does not have attachment to a significant other person. The consequences can be that the individual may have difficulties connecting with others. This essay will first explore some of the salient theories on grief and bereavement. Secondly, a discussion of my experiences grieving my father’s death drawing on some key elements of bereavement theories will follow. Finally, a summary of the discussion will conclude the essay.
Freud (1953 â€“ 1974) was the first major contributor to the theory of grief. His theory stressed that grieving individuals search for an attachment that has been lost. His work involved the process of breaking the links that bonded the survivor to the deceased. He identified three elements namely:
Parkes (1971, 1996) argued that Freud’s concept of grief was useful in considering grief to be part of a rebuilding process which he calls ‘psychosocial transition’. Freud (1953-1974) argued that the grieving experience for the bereaved requires that they acknowledge their separation from the deceased by going through a process that includes painful emotions of guilt and anger. Furthermore, these emotions must be expressed. Key to Freud’s approach was the idea that if the bereaved failed to work with or complete their grief work, then the grieving process would become complicated and compromise recovery. This model stresses the importance of moving on as quickly as possible in order to return to ‘normal’ functioning. Influenced by Freud (1953-1974), several grief theorists including KÃ¼bler Ross (1969), Bowlby (1980) and Parkes &
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