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Hope for people suffering from complicated grief

Katherine Shear. Photo courtesy of Columbia School of Social Work.

Katherine Shear. Photo courtesy of Columbia School of Social Work.

Grief is usually all consuming at first but gradually people who have lost a loved one begin to move on with life.

However, for people who suffer from complicated grief the mourning phase continues and even worsens, with some becoming socially isolated and refusing to accept the death of a loved one.

There is hope, according to Katherine Shear, MD, director of the Center for Complicated Grief at the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York City.

Shear, who was interviewed in this Parade article, has developed a 16-session psychotherapy intervention that lets people who are grieving go back to the moment when they learned a loved one died. They can then work through issues surrounding the death.

For instance, Stephanie Muldberg grieved for years after losing her 13-year-old son, Eric, to bone cancer in 2004. When she accepted psychotherapy Muldberg tackled emotions that had kept her in deep grief.

“I told Eric I was sad and angry that he suffered so much from bone surgery late in his treatment,” Muldberg told Parade.

With the help of therapy Muldberg said she is now able to remember the joy her son brought. She said she is ready to move back into life.

Social workers help clients overcome grief. To learn more visit the National Association of Social Workers’ Grief and Loss website.

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Yes, social workers help people overcome grief. In my experience, one of the most important ways to do that is to reassure the bereaved that seeing their departed loved-one does not mean they are “crazy.” Most of my clients are elderly women who lost a spouse after many decades of marriage. Almost without exception, they report seeing an apparition of the departed, talking to the departed, or even feeling his presence in their bed. Whether we believe these experiences are factual events or simply compensatory delusions, they are a part of the grieving process that brings comfort, especially in the early days of loss.

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