Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

The Many Faces of Bereavement: The Nature and Treatment of Natural, Traumatic, and Stigmatized Grief

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

The Many Faces of Bereavement: The Nature and Treatment of Natural, Traumatic, and Stigmatized Grief

Article excerpt

GINNY SPRANG AND JOHN MCNEIL: The Many Faces of Bereavement: The Nature and Treatment of Natural, Traumatic, and Stigmatized Grief New York: Brunner/ Mazel. 1995, 205 pp., $26.95, ISBN 0-87630-756-X.

Death comes about for a variety of causes, some natural, some through murder or unavoidable disasters provoking traumatic grief, and some through accidental and avoidable causes, but with stigmas attached to it. Hence, the title of this work distinguishes among these three types. Each type produces completely different consequences for the bereaved with different treatment plans to deal with them.

In an introductory chapter, stages of grief are outlined: (1) attempts at limited awareness: shock, denial, and isolation; (2) awareness and emotional release; (3) depression; (4) acceptance and resolution. Although "stage models" of grief have been questioned on empirical grounds, because they do not take into account individually idiosyncratic reactions, they tend to persist in the literature. Perhaps instead of stages, the tasks of mourning may be a more appropriate model that, nevertheless, overlaps with stages: (1) accepting the reality of the loss; (2) experiencing the pain of grief; (3) adjusting to a changed environment; and (4) withdrawing emotional energy and reinvesting it in other relationships.

The three sections of this work derive directly from the foregoing and important distinction made at the outset. In the first section, traditional models of grief are reviewed within the context of spousal and parental death, with suggestions for their treatment. Here, the elderly receive particular attention, since they are more vulnerable to losses than younger couples or families. Grief is a function of many factors, but factors that receive particular attention throughout this work are: age, gender, religious beliefs, and social support. …

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