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Bereavement. Holmes and Rahe (1967): most stressful life event: death of spouse.

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Presentation on theme: "Bereavement. Holmes and Rahe (1967): most stressful life event: death of spouse."— Presentation transcript:

1 Bereavement

2 Holmes and Rahe (1967): most stressful life event: death of spouse

3 Bereavement (DSM-IV) This Category can be used when the focus of clinical attention is a reaction to the death of a loved one. As part of their reaction to the loss, some grieving individuals present with symptoms characteristic of a Major Depressive Episode (e.g. feeling of sadness and associated symptoms such as insomnia, poor appetite, and weight loss). The bereaved individual typically regards the depressed mood as normal, although the person may seek professional help for relief of associated symptoms such as insomnia or anorexia. The duration and expression of normal bereavement vary considerably among different cultural groups. The diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder is generally not given unless the symptoms are still present 2 months after the loss.

4 Feelings Sadness Anger Guilt & self-reproach Anxiety Loneliness Fatigue Helplessness Shock Yearning Emancipation Relief Numbness

5 All the above represent normal grief feelings and there is nothing pathological about any one of them. However, feelings that exist for abnormally long periods of time and at excessive intensity may portend a complicated grief reaction.

6 Bereavement (DSM-IV, cont) However, the presence of certain symptoms that are not characteristic of a normal grief reaction may be helpful in differentiating bereavement from a Major Depressive Episode. These include: 1) guilt about things other than actions taken or not taken by the survivor at the time of death; 2) thoughts of death other than the survivor feeling that he or she would be better off dead or should have died with the deceased person; 3) morbid preoccupation with worthlessness; 4) marked psychomotor retardation; 5) prolonged and marked functional impairment; and 6) hallucinatory experiences other than thinking that he or she hears the voice of, or transiently sees the image of, the deceased person.

7 Physical Sensations Hollowness in the stomach Tightness in the chest Tightness in the throat Oversensitivity to noise A sense of depersonalization Breathlessness, feeling short of breath Weakness in the muscles Lack of energy Dry mouth

8 Cognitions Disbelief Confusion Preoccupation Sense of presence Hallucinations

9 Behaviors Sleep disturbance Appetite disturbances Absent-minded behavior Social withdrawal Dreams of the deceased Avoiding reminders of the deceased Searching & calling out Sighing Restless overactivity Crying Visiting places or carrying objects that remind the survivor of the deceased Treasuring objects that belonged to the deceased

10 Grieving Reactions over time Annual incidence of bereavement in the population: 5 – 9 % * Byrne and Raphael (1994): 76.5% of bereaved elderly mean had intrusive memories of their spouses at 13 months; 49% reported feelings of distress; 43% were preoccupied with mental images of their spouse; 41% were still yearning for their spouses, and 25% had looked for their spouse in familiar places.

11 Depression Overall about 20% of bereaved individuals will develop a psychiatric disorder, primarily depression *

12 Predictors of Poor Bereavement Outcome * Perception of poor social support Prior psychiatric history High initial distress with depressive symptoms Unanticipated death Other significant life stresses and losses Prior high dependency on the deceased who provided key support Death of a child

13 Predictors of Negative Bereavement Outcome Age and education Social support Opportunities for anticipatory grieving Relationship with spouse Number of concurrent life stressors Time since death Financial status

14 Xx Lindemann (1944) First described anticipatory grief. Spouse becomes so concerned with their adjustment in the face of a potential death, that they go through all the phases of grief prior to the actual death. While this reaction was felt to be a safeguard against the impact of a sudden death, it can be problematic when pts follow a more protracted terminal course than originally anticipated. Generated considerable debate over anticipatory grief. Lindemann E. Symptomatology and management of acute grief. Am J Psychiatry. 1944; 101:

15 Bowlby (1961): Attachment Theory Observed children who were separated from their parents in institutional settings. Mary Ainsworth (1991): the way in which a child of 18 months reacts when separated for a few minutes from his mother in a strange situation predicts how it he will be coping with other relationships 10 years later.

16 Mary Ainsworth (1991) Strange situation test Babies take little notice when their mother leaves the room and often ignore her when she returns. But their self-reliance does not protect them from feeling anxious, and their apparent independence is associated with a racing heart and other physical sings of fear. Other babies have mothers who are insensitive to their bids for attention; they show every manifestation of distress when separated from their mother and cling to her in an angry way when she returns. They too are excessively insecure and seem to feel that they have no hope of survival unless they stay close to their mother. Securely attached children will tolerate short periods of separation quite well; they may whimper for a short time when their mother leaves the room but, provided she does not stay away too long, they will continue to play with toys, their heart rate will not rise unduly and they will greet her return with a hug and a smile. Securely attached children are more relaxed and adventurous than insecurely attached children; they learn more quickly, do better at school and, in due time, the transition from childhood dependency to adult autonomy proceeds relatively smoothly. By contrast insecurely attached children are generally anxious and insecure; they are often underachievers, doing less well at school

17 Parkes & Weiss (1983) Unexpected loss syndrome Dependent grief syndrome Conflicted grief syndrome

18 Lindemann (1944), Bowlby (1961), and Parkes & Weiss (1983): suggest that grief is a process involving phases, stages, or dimensions which culminate in reorganization, resolution, or reentry into everyday living.

19 Worden (1991) described tasks which individuals complete in order to facilitate the mourning process. The goal is to achieve a restored balanced in life through grief resolution. Descriptions of phases, tasks, or manifestations of grief generally include experiences of disorganization for the bereaved resulting in the inability to restore past order and meaning to life. The experience is characterized by feelings of anguish and being overwhelmed (Parkes, 1987).

20 The Tasks of Mourning (Worden) Task I: To Accept the Reality of the Loss Opposite: not believing through some type of denial Task II: To Work Through To the Pain of Grief Opposite: not to feel

21 The Tasks of Mourning (cont'd) Task III: To Adjust to An Environment in Which the Deceased is Missing Opposite: not adapting to the loss by promoting their own helplessness, or by withdrawing from the world Task IV: To Emotionally Relocate the Deceased & Move on With Life Hindered by holding on the past attachment

22 Janoff-Bulman (1992) 3 basic assumptions: beliefs about ourselves, external world, and the relationship between the two. The world is benevolent, meaningful. The self is worthy. Meaningfulness found in predictable life patterns or expected life roles. The world is benevolent when one feels in control; the story-book world. Crisis, such as loss, invalidates certain assumptive structures and challenges individuals to affirm or reconstruct a personal world of meaning (Neimeyer, 1997). Rebuilding an assumptive world after trauma as both an emotional and cognitive process or reestablishing equilibrium.

23 Rondo (1984): to understand the unique nature and meaning of loss we must view the loss from the individuals frame of reference: age, psychosocial context, and sense of meaning and fulfillment, characteristics of the relationship and roles the deceased performed in the mourners life, personal behaviour, presence of other lifes stressors.

24 Dual-Process view of bereavement Stroebe and Schut (1999): grief work is seen as a loss- oriented process that alternates with restoration-oriented processes (e.g. denial, suppression and distraction). Loss orientation: engages in intensive grief work, experiencing, exploring and expressing the range of feelings associated with loss in an attempt to grasp its significance for his of her life. Restoration orientation: the griever focuses on the many external adjustments required by the loss, concentrating on work and home responsibilities, establishing and maintaining relationships, while tuning out the waves of acute grief that may come again. Some degree of avoidance of the reality of loss may be both helpful and common, and will be experienced throughout the adjustment process, rather than confined solely to its initial process.

25 The Four Tasks of Mourning Worden, 1991

26 (1)To Accept the Reality of the Loss Vs. not believing through some type of denial Searching behavior Mummification Distortion Deny meaning of the loss: Minimize significance Selective forgetting Deny that death is irreversible Spiritualism: chronic hope for reunion Involves emotional acceptance Funeral

27 (2)To Work Through to the Pain of Grief Necessary to acknowledge and work through this pain, otherwise symptoms Vs.: Not to feel Idealize the dead Avoid reminders Use alcohol or drug

28 (3) To Adjust to an Environment in Which the Deceased is Missing Vs. Not adapting to the loss by promoting their own helplessness, or by withdrawing from the world Adjust to the loss of roles played by the deceased Adjust to own sense of self Lowered self-esteem Sense of the world: new beliefs may be adopted or old ones modified to reflect the fragility of life and the limits of control

29 (4)To Emotionally Relocate the Deceased and Move on With Life Vs. holding on to past attachments A survivors readiness to enter new relationships depends not on giving up the dead spouse but on finding a suitable place for the spouse in the psychological life of the bereaved – a place that is important but that leaves room for others. (Shuchter & Zisook, 1996) Some people find loss so painful that hey make a pact with themselves never to love again.

30 Identifying the At-Risk Bereaved

31 Bereavement Risk Index (Parkes & Weiss, 1983) : 1.More young children at home 2.Lower social class 3.Employment – little if any 4.Anger – high 5.Pining – high 6.Self-reproach – high 7.Lacking current relationships 8.Coping assessment by rater – requiring help

32 Diagnosing Complicated Grief The person cannot speak of the deceased without experiencing intense and fresh grief. Some relatively minor event triggers off an intense grief reaction. Themes of loss come up in a clinical interview. Unwilling to move material possessions belonging to the deceased.

33 Complicated Grief (Contd) Developed physical symptoms like those the deceased experienced before death. Radical changes in their lifestyle following a death. Long history of subclinical depression: persistent guilt and lowered self-esteem, severe hopelessness, self blame.

34 Complicated Grief (Contd) A compulsion to imitate the dead person. Self-destructive impulses. Unaccountable sadness occurring at a certain time each year. Phobia about illness or about death is often related to the specific illness that took the deceased.

35 Complicated Grief (Contd) Real delay in grief reactions. Severely out of touch with feelings. Intense anger. Social withdrawal. Loss of interest or planning for future. Substance abuse.

36 Counseling Principles Principle One:Help the survivor actualize the loss Principle Two:Help the survivor to identify and express feeling Principle Three:Assist Living Without the Deceased Principle Four:Facilitate Emotional Relocation of the Deceased

37 Counseling Principles Principle Five:Provide time to grieve Principle Six:Interpret normal behavior Principle Seven:Allow for individual differences Principle Eight:Provide continuing support Principle Nine:Examine defense & coping styles Principle Ten:Identify pathology and refer

38 Useful Techniques 1.Evocative language 2.Use of symbols 3.Writing 4.Drawing 5.Role playing 6.Cognitive restructuring 7.Memory book 8.Directed imagery

39 When Should One Reach Out for Help? Substantial guilt, about things other than the actions you took or did not take at the time time of a loved ones death. Suicidal thoughts which go beyond a passive wish that you would be better off dead or could reunite with your loved one. Extreme hopelessness, a sense that no matter how hard you try, you will never be able to recover a lift worth living. Prolonged agitation or depression, a feeling of being keyed up or slowed down that persists over a period of months. Physical symptoms, such as stabbing chest pain or substantial weight loss, that could pose a threat to your physical well-being. Uncontrolled rage, that estranges friends and loved ones or leaves you plotting revenge for your loss Persistent functional impairment in your ability to hold a job, or accomplish routine tasks required for daily living. Substance abuse, relying heavily on drugs or alcohol to banish the pain of loss. Neimeyer (2000) Lessons of Loss

40 Neimeyer (2000) Death as an event can validate or invalidate the constructions on the basis of which we live, or it may stand as a novel experience for which we have no constructions. Grief is a personal process, one that is idiosyncratic, intimate, and inextricable from our sense of who we are. Grieving is something we do, not something that is done to us. (experience of grieving itself may be rich in choice) Grieving is the act of affirming or reconstructing a personal world of meaning that has been challenged by loss. (assimilate loss into pre- existing frameworks of meaning, ultimately reasserting the viability of the belief system that previously sustained us, or we can accommodate our life narative to correspond more closely to what we perceive as a changed reality. Feelings have functions, and should be understood as signals of the state of our meaning making efforts in the wake of challenges to the adequacy of our constructions. (Denial, depression, anxiety, guilt, hostility, threat). We construct and reconstruct our identities as survivors of loss in negotiation with others. Neimeyer (2000). Lessons of Loss p

41 Position of not knowing, rather than imposition of expert knowledge. Grieving is an active process, a period of accelerated decision-making. Encourages caregivers to assist bereaved individual in identifying conscious and unconscious choices they confront, and then helping them sift through their options and make difficult decisions. Neimeyer (2000). Lessons of Loss p.111-2

42 Mourning never ends. Only as time goes on, it erupts less frequently. - Widow in her 60s

43 Thank you.

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