Independent medical expert answers
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Overcoming Grief; Stages of Grief

Written by: Fabio Piccini, doctor and Jungian psychotherapist, in charge of the "Centre for Eating Disorders Therapy" at the “Malatesta Novello” Clinic in Cesena. Works privately in Rimini and Chiavari. E-mail:
First version: 22 Jul 2008. Latest version: 20 Aug 2008.


Stages in overcoming grief: Acceptance, experiencing, adjustment, reinvesting.


What shall I do to get over grief? What are the stages of overcoming grief?


According to Worden, one of the most famous experts on grief therapy in the world, there are four tasks in mourning:

_ accept reality of loss

_ experience and bear the pain or grief

_ adjust to a world in which the dead person is missing

_ withdraw and reinvest emotional energy.

The tasks of mourning begin with the acceptance of the reality of the loss. Being present at the death, seeing the body after death, and the rituals of a funeral all help to bring this home to the bereaved.

All intrapsychic change is stressful and most people at some stage try to avoid the pain of grief.

They may search for a substitute for the relation that is lost (for example, they may re-marry quickly, or adopt another child in place of the one they lost).

It is much wiser, though initially more lonely and painful, to wait until grieving is complete before attempting to form a new relationship.

Adjusting to a world in which the dead person is missing entails changing many of the rituals of daily life and may include taking on some of the functions previously assumed by the dead person (if, for example, in a young family the father dies, mother finds that has to play some of the father’s roles too, and, in doing so, she becomes a whole, more balanced individual).

In the early stages of mourning, the bereaved person is preoccupied with the memory of the dead. It is as if the psyche has to re-evaluate all the aspects of the relationship and get it into perspective, accepting and forgiving the bad, and appreciating the good, before letting go.

More about grief.
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