- learn how to grieve well
by Choice or Chance
By Peter K.
NSRC Experts Council
address of this worksheet is
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This is one
of a series of articles comprising
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
relationships and families. Typical survivors of
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
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...
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
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...
And this Web series exists to correct...
misconception that significant losses (broken bonds) only occur from
the death of a special person, pet, or other living thing.
Decide if your
expect skewed results from these two loss inventories,
decide if you want to use
your Self to guide your
Get in a quiet,
undistracted place, and allot plenty of time to meditate as
you fill this worksheet out. Stay clear:
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
Expect to learn
something useful from doing this inventory.
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!
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.
In the "Lost How?" column, use one or more symbols
for what caused your loss - e.g.
"A" for an
for childhood trauma
child-conception and birth
divorce or separation
(add your own
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
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
+ + +
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
(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
A prized role.
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 /
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)
_ single and previously divorced
_ a (non)custodial parent
_ without children
_ my ex's only mate
_ very (in)dependent
_ 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
_ 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
2c) For each lost
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 *
_ tallest / shortest *
_ baby *
|_ youngest (oldest)
_ funniest *
_ loudest / quietest *
_ star *
_ most athletic *
| _ smartest *
_ favorite *
_ strongest *
_ __________ *
My Invisible Losses
Beliefs and ideals
(check and/or rank in importance):
_ My childhood family was very "functional"
childhood caregivers knew how to identify and fill all my developmental
_ I have no significant psychological
_ I was not /
I know how to
I know how to
I'll never need professional counseling or therapy
_ I'll never have a serious illness or
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
remarry; _ fight for custody; _ be addicted; _ file for
_ pay child support, _ on time; _ move close by (far away); _
_ reappear; _ have a baby; _ lose their job; _ lie to our kid/s
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! . . . . . . . . . . . .
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 /
_ 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
against me . . . . . . . .
_ Our new (step)family will stabilize in a few months after
_ Key friends and _ relatives will
with what I'm feeling
_ My new spouse will treat my kid/s like their own
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
_ Use the washer / dryer / basement / phone / yard / porch / garage
_ Bowl / fish / garden / dance / paint / write / _______
_ Visit my aunt / uncle / grandparent / Dad / Mom / child / friend /
brother / sister / _____________ when I want to . . .
_ Food-shop, _ cook, and/or _ eat when and _ what I
_ 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 -
_ 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
_ ____________________; _ _____________________
_ ____________________; _ ______________________
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
_ 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
_ I and our marriage will always come
with you . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
My (or someone's) Invisible
emotional securities and trusts
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
_ ___________________ ; _ _________________ ;
_ ___________________; _ __________________
- 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
Doing these things
together is part of family
- intentionally (a) evolve a
(b) model and teach your kids healthy grieving concepts and principles,
and (c) help each other learn to do "good grief."
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
Pause, breathe, and reflect: why did you read or fill out this
inventory - what did you
If you got what you needed, what do you need to do now? If you didn't,
you need? Who's answering these questions - your wise resident
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