The meaning of loss and bereavement

Discuss the significance of Loss and Bereavement across the lifetime and how an apprehension of those constructs might act upon societal work pattern.

Include in your reply mention to the relevancy of cultural and spiritual influences in this country.

When sing the significance of Loss and Bereavement across the lifetime and how an apprehension of these constructs might act upon societal work pattern, it is of import to get down by clearly specifying the constructs being referred to. Merely one time the nomenclature has been sufficiently defined is it possible to see the influence these constructs might hold on societal work pattern. Furthermore, when sing loss and mourning in a multicultural society such as the UK it is peculiarly of import to take into history the relevancy of cultural and spiritual influences and how they impact on feelings of loss and mourning. Clearly these issues could make full ( and do ) many specialist texts. As such, the intent of this paper is merely to supply a general overview of this organic structure of research.

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It is possibly easy to get down with the construct of ‘loss’ . Miller and Omarzu suggest that ‘loss’ is best idea of as something or person that a individual one time had but which is no longer present. [ 1 ] This definition of the term ‘loss’ follows rather closely the dictionary significance ( “the province of being deprived of or of being without something that 1 has had: for illustration, the loss of old friends” ) [ 2 ] and shows that the linguistic communication of societal work pattern does non, in this case, go excessively far from common idiom.

However, it is possibly in the niceties environing the term ‘loss’ where the two diverge. While the term ‘loss’ is normally associated with ‘death’ and frequently used interchangeably, [ 3 ] Miller and Omarzu are speedy to indicate out that ‘loss’ is a much wider term which takes in a much broader spectrum of experiences, both physical and psychological, of which ‘death’ forms merely one peculiar case. [ 4 ]

For societal work intents, Miller and Omarzu suggest that it is helpful to categorize the types of loss that people experience in two chief ways ; physical and symbolic. [ 5 ] ‘Physical’ loss involves the taking off of something touchable, for case where person dies or a individual loses a organic structure portion ( for illustration a limb ) . ‘Symbolic’ loss on the other manus does non affect a touchable loss, but instead, “changes in one’s psychological experiences of societal interactions” . [ 6 ] Symbolic loss can include such things as the loss of a occupation, the loss of beliefs or function theoretical accounts or the loss off feelings of ego worth ( for illustration, due to burden addition ) .


The term ‘bereavement’ on the other manus is specific to loss occasioned through decease. [ 7 ]

Parkes has suggested that mourning takes topographic point in four phases:

  • “phase 1: daze, numbness and the hurting of grieving ;
  • stage 2: manifestation of fright, guilt, choler and bitterness ;
  • stage 3: detachment, apathy and purposelessness ;
  • stage 4: a gradual hope and a move in new directions.” [ 8 ]

As set out below, Parkes’ suggested phases build on the work of Kubler-Ross who developed a five phase procedure associating to deceasing and loss. Kubler-Ross’ work nevertheless focused more on those diagnosed with a terminal unwellness and how they coped with the world of their ain mortality while Parkes’ work focused more steadfastly on the stages that those left behind most normally went through.

Grief and Mourning

Associated with loss and mourning are the constructs of ‘grief’ and ‘mourning’ . [ 9 ] While common to all civilizations, the ways in which heartache and bereavement are expressed will be influenced by a person’s civilization and faith and as such it is of cardinal importance that a societal worker covering with a individual who has late experienced loss be empathic to that person’s specific cultural and/or spiritual demands.

In sociological footings, the cultural and spiritual ‘rules’ around sorrowing serve the utile intent of regulation and incorporating emotions that are “often natural, upseting, volatile and unexpected.” [ 10 ] In the Western universe, where faith dramas ( for the most portion ) a secondary function to that of the State, it is argued that clear guidelines for sorrowing no longer be and that public shows of emotion associated with heartache should for the most portion be contained and dealt with in private. [ 11 ]

In some other civilizations, where the influence of the State may non be so permeant, strength is most likely to be drawn from household and faith. Interestingly, recent research has found that while cultural and spiritual differences consequence the mode in which the loss and bereavement procedure is interpreted, differences between genders are non every bit simple to place. [ 12 ] However, the brevity of this paper precludes the divergency into the different possible attacks to loss and mourning that gender dramas and it should merely be noted that gender issues may necessitate to be bourn in head by societal workers when covering with anyone sing loss and mourning whether they are from the UK or another civilization. Of peculiar importance in this respect is the fact that adult females are more likely to outlast their male spouses and that hence, they are more likely to necessitate aid from a societal worker at a late phase in their lives.

Influences on Loss and Bereavement across the Lifespan

There are many influences which can increase the degree of loss that person feels. These can include for illustration, decease coming approximately violently or a organic structure being lost and non available for entombment ( for case the decease of person who is thrown overboard or lost in the wilderness ) . However, possibly the greatest influence on the degree of heartache that is felt is the phase during a person’s lifetime at which the loss occurs. For case, an grownup kid losing an aged parent peacefully in their slumber is less likely to endure from unnatural mourning ( ie mourning that boundary lines on depression ) than a immature parent losing a immature kid would.

Similarly, societal workers covering with loss and bereavement demand to be cognizant of the phase in the lifetime at which the loss has occurred and utilize this cognition in finding the best manner in which to help the sorrowing individual to cover with their heartache and travel on with their life.

Possibly the most hard state of affairs for a individual to cover with is the loss of a kid. The loss of a kid means the loss of future potency and unrealized dreams. It can besides creates feelings of guilt by manner of the fact that the child’s parents are likely to experience responsible for the decease even if there was nil that they could make to forestall it happening. Parents are seen as their children’s defenders and the guilt that arises from non holding been able to move in a positive manner to salvage the child’s life will be with them for the remainder of their lives through reoccurring inquiring of themselves and those around them.

Before the age of five, a child’s position of decease is that it is a impermanent province similar to kiping and it is merely after five that kids begin to understand that decease is concluding. As kids develop into striplings, their position of decease becomes romanticised ( their ‘personal fable’ ) . They are at a phase of find and feeling that they are alone and particular leads to a sense of impregnability. [ 13 ] This sense of impregnability means that people between 18 and 26 are the most likely to decease unnecessarily ( eg motor vehicle accident, drug overdose, self-destruction, etc ) . On the other side, this sense of impregnability can besides do helping immature grownups covering with terminal unwellnesss peculiarly hard ( the immature individual may fell angry and cheated and direct this choler at those seeking to help them ) . [ 14 ]

In in-between age, the most common causes of decease are bosom onslaught and shot ( both sudden ) and malignant neoplastic disease. It is at this age that people are most accepting and cognizant of decease but besides feel the most disquieted about it. [ 15 ]

The intimacy of decease makes aged people less dying about it than at any other clip in their life. Of greater concern to many elderly is non facing decease, but instead the manner in which they die, their loss of independency, the value that their lives still have and feelings of being an unwelcome load on others. [ 16 ]

Possibly the most good known survey into the psychological science of deceasing was that undertaken by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who “described the procedure of deceasing and loss as a sequence of five phases: denial, choler, bargaining, depression and acceptance” . [ 17 ] While these phases are a generalization taken from interviews with many terminally sick patients and do non use to everyone, they do supply a fundamental usher for societal workers when covering with those deceasing or losing a loved 1. Importantly nevertheless has be more recent work which has expanded on Kubler-Ross’s original survey and found that these phases are besides relevant to loss other than decease ( eg loss of a organic structure limb or an abortion ) [ 18 ] and besides to “describing the procedure of grieving” . [ 19 ]

The first phase, denial, involves an involuntariness by the individual to accept the state of affairs as it is. Denial does non normally last long and is followed by phase two, choler. In this phase, the individual can go verbally and physically opprobrious towards those around him and societal workers helping person at this phase should be peculiarly argus-eyed but at the same clip cognizant that this choler is frequently a manifestation of the person’s fright and anxiousness. The 3rd phase, bargaining, involves efforts by the individual to strike a trade with some higher being in which they promise to do alterations in their life in return for the fortunes environing their loss being altered in some manner. Bargaining is followed by phase four, depression, in which the individual withdraws from those around them and becomes overwhelmed by feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness. Acceptance, phase five, is the concluding phase by which clip the individual is able to cover calmly with what they are faced with and do the most of their leftover clip. [ 20 ]

Cultural and Religious Influences

Parkes, Laungani and Young make the interesting point “that most hospices and mourning services have been initiated by people with strong spiritual commitments” . However, in the Western universe, these traces of spiritual overtones have easy given manner to a more secular service, which Walter points out may be appropriate in a multi-cultural society, but runs the hazard of neglecting to make full the spread left by the remotion of faith therefore go forthing no topographic point for the religious side in modern mourning pattern. [ 21 ]

For the most portion nevertheless, the function that spiritual leaders and ritual specializers one time played in the Western universe has now been superseded by that of the State. Religious and cultural procedures for sorrowing in the Western universe are seen as a affair of personal pick, every bit long as they remain within the reasonably defined boundaries set by the State ( ie it is non seen as acceptable in the Western universe for the loss of a loved one to take to a blood feud, instead it is the State’s function to penalize the wrongdoer and thereby do impotent any anger-based revenge contemplated by sorrowing household and friends ) , with societal workers holding the undertaking of steering and helping the sorrowing individual to travel through the grieving procedure and reintegrate back into normal twenty-four hours to twenty-four hours life.

Parkes, Laungani and Young point out that there are many varied grounds why people from other civilizations populating in the UK may necessitate support which include a deficiency of resources within their ain cultural web able to help them, deficiency of understanding in their ain cultural web with regard to what they are traveling through ( eg an single miss seeking/dealing with an abortion ) and non being satisfied with traditional ways of get bying. [ 22 ] They suggest that the societal workers/ counsellor’s function should non be that of an advice giver but instead that of a facilitator who assists a individual ‘explain themselves to themselves’ and they note that “cross-cultural guidance can be honoring for the counselor every bit good as the client.” [ 23 ]

In her book, “Religions, Culture and Healthcare: A Practical Handbook for Use in Healthcare Environments” , Susan Hollins provides, as the rubric suggests, a general practical usher to the most common spiritual groups in the UK and among other shared beliefs, each group’s attitude to deceasing and decease. While such a text can merely of all time supply a general overview of the cultural background of any sorrowing individual, it is of import that societal workers are cognizant that these differences do be and make non cover Western attitudes associating to sorrowing and loss onto those from different civilizations. For case, Hollins references that, for certain spiritual grounds, “Muslims may non ever expose emotion during times of crisis brought about by unwellness, or at the decease of a relative.” [ 24 ] While this is clearly a generalization and non applicable in all instances, it still gives a societal worker covering with a Muslim client a better apprehension of why they might respond to loss in a certain manner and the cognition to better find how best to be of aid to that individual.

Another illustration of cultural and spiritual influences that Hollins suggests is that a Hindu adult female, “may suffer considerable guilt and shame if she has more than one gestation loss, whether due to miscarriage or stillbirth, as the Hindu accent is upon a woman’s birthrate and ability to bear children.” [ 25 ]

What needs to be remembered is that loss and mourning are cosmopolitan to all human civilizations and that as a societal workers chief intent is easing the grieving procedure, they should merely be willing to be unfastened and honest with the client no affair what their faith or civilization. Unfortunately, this may on occasion convey them into struggle with 3rd parties who believe that the societal worker should non be helping that peculiar client, or non helping in the manner that they are. In such instances, the societal worker should stay cognizant that their overruling responsibility is to their client, nevertheless in the involvements of defusing the state of affairs, should either expression for a cultural or spiritual common land, or if all else fails, obtain advice from an independent senior practician ( bearing in head any privateness considerations ) .

Influences on Social Work Practice

As antecedently noted, the issues of loss and mourning and the relevancy of cultural and spiritual influences on them are subjects which are excessively wide to cover in a paper of this length. Peoples have dedicated full callings to developing theories which attempt to near a basic apprehension of this country of the human mind. What is peculiarly dramatic when 1 has the chance to reexamine the literature and try a general overview of it, is the deficiency of understanding, non merely in footings of the major issues, but besides with regard to the more everyday issues, such as definitions or differences between genders.

While societal workers cover successfully with issues of loss and mourning on a day-to-day footing, and do so when necessary across cultural, spiritual, age and gender differences, the deficiency of consistence in the theoretical domain suggests that possibly loss and mourning are issues which transcend strict theoretical analysis and possibly merely necessitate a connexion between two people ; one who is seeking to come to footings with the entropy their ain mortality and another who is non offering replies, but instead a dedicated and empathic ear.Bibliography

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