Lesson 3 of 7 - learn how to grieve well

    Worksheet:
     an
    Invisible-Loss Inventory

    What People Lose
    by Choice or Chance

    By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

    Member NSRC Experts Council

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  The Web address of this worksheet is http://sfhelp.org/grief/abstract.htm

Updated 01-16-2015

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      This is one of a series of articles comprising online Lesson-3 in the Break the Cycle! self-improvement course. This lesson aims to educate readers to healthy grieving basics so they can spot and complete unfinished mourning and evolve pro-grief relationships and families. Typical survivors of early-childhood trauma (Grown Wounded Children - GWCs) never learned these basics, and risk psychological, physical, and relationship problems from incomplete mourning.

      This is one of two worksheets which aim to help adults and older children in any family:

  • Identify the many specific tangible (physical) and invisible things they've each lost;

  • Judge whether these losses have been, or are being, well mourned; and help them...

  • Name and discuss their respective losses and their impacts, and support each other in grieving them over time.

      This article assumes you're familiar with...

  • the intro to this nonprofit web site and the premises underlying it   

  • these five universal hazards

  • self-improvement Lesson 1

  • these Q&A items and good-grief basics
     


      Here a loss is a broken psychological bond with something of value - i.e. a mental, psychological, and perhaps spiritual reaction to some prized thing, person, or situation that will never be experienced in the same way again. We break bonds with prized physical and invisible things, over time. Invisible losses include securities, trust, respect, love, hope, freedoms, abilities, relationships, roles, youth, and rituals,  

      This inventory is part of a series of Web articles and resources that promote healthy three-level grief. The series exists because...

  • our unaware ancestors and our warp-speed, feel-good culture have discouraged typical people (like you?) from understanding...

    • the process of healthy grief,

    • what's required for it, and

    • what can happen when grief gets blocked,

    And this Web series exists to correct...

  • the harmful misconception that significant losses (broken bonds) only occur from the death of a special person, pet, or other living thing.

  Preparation

  • Decide if your true Self is directing your personality. If not...

    • expect skewed results from these two loss inventories, and...

    • decide if you want to use Lesson 1 options to free your Self to guide your other talented subselves.

  • Get in a quiet, undistracted place, and allot plenty of time to meditate as you fill this worksheet out. Stay clear: changes are only losses if some significant bond/s are broken.

  • note the theme of these common losses, and be alert for any that aren't included in this inventory; and...

  • Expect to learn something useful from doing this inventory.

Options

Make notes or symbols, and add items to fit your unique situation as you go. Note comments or feelings, and hilight with colored markers. Make these inventories work for you!

When you're done, go back and rank-order the most impactful losses (e.g. "1" = most impactful, "2" = next, etc.). Alternatively, asterisk or circle the most significant losses without ranking.

      One value of this worksheet is in becoming aware of how many things you or another person have lost. Another is becoming more aware of how you or they have reacted to those losses. So - get quiet, take your time, and note your significant invisible losses.

 Directions

      In the "Lost How?" column, use one or more symbols for what caused your loss - e.g.

"A" for an accident

"Ch" for childhood trauma

"D" for death

"I" for Illness

"M" for marriage

"R" for relocation (move)

"B" for child-conception and birth

"Co" for cohabiting,

"Dv" for divorce or separation

"ND" for natural disaster

"O" for other reasons

(add your own symbols)

      Get clear on your criteria for judging if grief is "done" or not. One way to judge this is whether the person demonstrates (vs. says) they have genuinely accepted a loss on mental, emotional, and spiritual levels. Incomplete acceptance causes behavioral clues like these.

      Then use your criteria to decide if you have (or someone else has) grieved each loss "well enough," and put "Y(es)," "No," or "?" for each invisible loss.

      Be flexible and creative - amend this inventory to better fit your unique needs.

+ + +

       Though these things can't be touched or recorded, their loss or ending has left painful "holes" in my (or another's) life just much as lost tangible things have.

My (or someone's) Invisible Losses

Lost How? Grieved enough?

1) Special relationships: (gone for good, or much less fun, safe, trusting, available, honest, intimate, helpful, etc.):

  • My Higher Power / Guardian Angel
     
  • Mate or a child
     
  • Relatives / in-laws  
     
  • Friends (who?)
     
  • Others: teachers / neighbors / tradespeople / workmates / clergy / doctor / dentist / beautician / barber / volunteer /...
     
  • A beloved pet
     

2a)  A prized role. I was, but am no longer, the main or only...

 _ breadwinner;  _  rule maker;   _ rule enforcer;   _ cook;   _ house cleaner; _ chauffeur;

 My _ Mom’s / _ my Dad's main: _ helper; _ listener;  _ guy / gal;

 _ partner _ companion; _ supporter; _ pal;  _ comforter;

 _ stepmom (dad);  _ stepsister (brother); ________________________

 A Protestant / Catholic / Jew / Baptist / Episcopalian / atheist / Christian /   Muslim / Buddhist / Methodist / Unitarian / __________________

 A (mid)westerner / southerner / easterner / northerner /
_________________  _  __________________

   
   
2b) Traits or roles (responsibilities) I had, but are now different, or gone. Cross out items that don't apply, and check or rank those that do.

 "I was, but am no longer..."

   
_ never (or once) married

_ single and previously divorced

_ a (non)custodial parent

_ without children

_ my ex's only mate

_ very (in)dependent

_ (un)employed

_ a (non)home owner
                   
_ a (non)churchgoer
                   
_ financially (un) comfortable

_ my child(ren)'s only fe/male parenting adult

 _ with(out) a will ($);

Living with my _ friend(s)
 _  bioparent(s) / _ child(ren)_ never divorced (widowed)

  _ a single widow(er)

  _ living alone

  _ without grandchildren

  _ a single parent

  _ in small family

  _ a (non)commuter

  _ a late sleeper

  _ the checkbook manager

  _ in charge of my home / space

  _ my grandchild(ren)'s only fe/male grand- parenting adult

  _ clear on my key responsibilities and values;  

 2c)  For each lost family role below, change " * " into any of these: boy / girl / child / son / daughter / grandchild / niece / nephew / cousin / ____

 "In our prior family, I used to be, but am no longer, the...

   
_ only *

_ prettiest / most handsome *

_ best behaved *

_ tallest / shortest *   

_ baby *

_ youngest (oldest) *

 _ funniest *

_ loudest / quietest *

_ star *

_ most athletic *

 _ smartest *

 _ favorite *

 _ strongest *

_  __________ *

_  __________*

     

My Invisible Losses

How lost?

Grieved
enough?

 3 Beliefs and ideals I've lost (check and/or rank in importance):

 _  My childhood family was very "functional" (high nurturance)

 _  My childhood caregivers knew how to identify and fill all my developmental needs effectively

 _  I have no significant psychological wounds

 _  I was not / am not addicted to anything

 _  I know how to grieve effectively

 _  I know how to communicate and problem-solve effectively

 _  I'll never need professional counseling or therapy

 _  I'll never have a serious illness or disability

 _  I know clearly how to protect my/our kids from psychological wounds

 _  My/our marriage will last forever!  . . . .  . . . . . . . . .

 _ There'll never be a divorce in our family!  . . . . . . . .

 _ My divorced parents and I (we) will get back together!  . . . . . . . . .

 _ My Dad (Mom) will never like (love) another (wo)man

 _ My kid/s will always live with me / their other bioparent . . . . . . . . 

 _  In major conflicts, my mate will always put me first

 _

 _

 _

   

Lost divorce beliefs: My ex-spouse will never (or surely)...

 _ remarry;   _ fight for custody; _ be addicted; _ file for bankruptcy

 _ pay child support,   _ on time;  _ move close by (far away);  _ die;

 _ reappear;  _ have a baby;  _ lose their job;  _ lie to our kid/s

   

 Lost stepfamily beliefs: my parent/s and sibling/s will accept and value: _ my new spouse, _ my stepkid/s, and  _ new in-laws, as much as they did (do) my ex, our kid/s, and my (ex) in-laws

 _  I will never belong to a stepfamily ..................................................

 _  We are not a stepfamily

 _  Our stepfamily is just like any normal intact (bio)family! . . . . . . . . . . . . 

_   My Mom(Dad) and my stepparent will (never) have a baby . . . . . . . 
 _  Our family's child custody / child support issues are settled!

 _  My child (ex spouse) will fully accept my new spouse / remarriage

 _  I'll (we'll) never be involved in a law suit . . . . . . . . .

 _  Money allocation will never come between me and ___________

 _  No one in our family will be sexually attracted to each other

 _  I'll never consider re/divorce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

 _  My kids and yours will learn to get along fine, soon enough

 _  You and our kids will all want us to have a new baby

 _  Our love and commitment will resolve all our family issues

 _  You'll rarely or never side with your ex mate against me . . . . . . . .

 _  Our new (step)family will stabilize in a few months after re/wedding

 _  Key friends and _ relatives will empathize with what I'm feeling

 _  My new spouse will treat my kid/s like their own 

   

4) Lost freedoms and privacies: things I did when and as I wanted to, but now I can't do the same, or at all:

 _  Spend quality time with _______________

 _  Be leisurely in the bathroom / rec. room / kitchen / car / my bed

 _  Use the stereo / TV / piano / VCR / hair dryer / PC / video games

 _ Have peace and quiet in my home space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

 _  Buy / _ spend / _ decorate as and when I wish

 _  Smoke / drink / work out / shout / nap / snack / travel / read / pray

 _  Use the washer / dryer / basement / phone / yard / porch / garage

 _  Bowl / fish / garden / dance / paint / write / _______

 _  Visit my aunt / uncle / grandparent / Dad / Mom / child / friend / cousin / brother / sister / _____________ when I want to . . . 

 _ Food-shop,  _ cook, and/or  _ eat when and _ what I want

 _ Stay out(up) late;  _ get up early / late / alone . . . . . . 

 Do office / home work: _ when, _ where, and _ how I want to

 _  Be casual about nudity or modesty at home . . . . . . .

 _  Say what I want or feel about ___________

 _  Go to my own church _ when I want; _ have my own space to myself

 _

 _

   


5)  Lost rituals, holidays, and special occasions from my prior family/life that are very different - or gone - now:

 _ Birthdays: who's / what's changed ______________

 _ Easter;  _ Passover;  _ Thanksgiving;  _ Halloween;

 _ Hanukkah;  _ Ramadan;  _ Christmas;  _ Valentines Day;  _4th of July;   _ Mother's (Father's) Day;
_  __________________;  _   __________________;

_  vacation;    _ our family reunion;

 _ Anniversaries: (who's / what?) _________________

 _ Bedtime reading / prayers / tucking in / cuddling / talking / ______________

 _ Saturday (Sunday) morning / afternoon / night meal (or activity)

 _ Baking;  _ planting;  _ shopping;  _ sports; _ household chores;

 _ game playing;   _ pet activity;  _ Socializing with
______________

 _  ____________________;   _  _____________________

 _  ____________________;  _  _____________________
_

   

6)  Lost emotional securities and trusts: people, conditions, or beliefs I used to feel sure of, but now I don't

 _ My kids (parents) will always love / trust / support / value me

 _ I'll (we'll) always have enough money . . . . . . . . . . . 

 _ If I divorce (remarry), my kid/s will be safe and well enough

 _ I'll always (never) want (have) custody of ________

 _ You and my kid/s will learn to really love each other!


 _ I should - and can - learn to love your kid/s like my own

 _ My Mom (Dad) will always have time for / listen to / choose / me

 _ Your kid/s and mine will get along just fine . . . . . . . 

 _ Your (my) child/ren will never come between us  

 _ I and our marriage will always come first with you . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . 

   

My (or someone's) Invisible Losses

How lost?

Grieved enough?

 Lost emotional securities and trusts (continued): people, conditions, or beliefs I used to feel sure of, but now I don't:

 _ My (your) kid/s will always want to live with ________

 _ My (your) ex-mate can never come between / control us

 _ We'll always be able to talk freely about __________

 _ I'm no longer sure that _______________________

 _ You'll always agree with / support / me on _________

 _ Your prior marriage (relationship) is emotionally over .

 _  ___________________ ;   _   _________________ ;

 _  ___________________;   _  __________________

   
  • Other significant losses not included above:


     
  • As I finish this worksheet, I feel...


     

  • A new awareness I have is...



     
  • Something I need to do is




    Awarenesses ...









          Recall: the purpose of these two loss inventories is to...

    • raise your awareness of common' physical and invisible losses (broken bonds), and...

    • help adults decide whether grieving each loss is "complete enough," and if not...

    • motivate you to review and update your family grieving permissions, values, and policies, and to...

    • negotiate who should do what for whom, to facilitate healthy mourning as needed.

Doing these things together is part of family Lesson 3 - intentionally (a) evolve a pro-grief family, (b) model and teach your kids healthy grieving concepts and principles, and (c) help each other learn to do "good grief."

 
Options 

  • Print and inventory your (or someone's) grief status on significant physical (tangible) losses

  • Have all your family adults and older kids fill out copies of these two inventories separately, then discuss them together. Note that some things may have been lost more than once

  • Keep studying Lessons 1, 2 and 3

      Pause, breathe, and reflect: why did you read or fill out this inventory - what did you need?  If you got what you needed, what do you need to do now? If you didn't, what do you need?  Who's answering these questions - your wise resident true Self, or ''someone else''?

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