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August 24, 2014
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This is the study guide for the third of
seven free self-improvement
lessons. The lessons are designed to help you break the lethal [wounds + unawareness]
that may be degrading your life and stressing your family.
This Lesson and guide exist because my experience over
35 years as a
family-systems therapist suggests that...
like you don't know healthy-grieving basics and how to grieve effectively, and...
they don't (want
to) know that, or what their unawareness means to them and
This puts family adults at risk of
not teaching their kids how to understand bonding, losses, and
healthy grief. That jeopardizes future generations in
Learn something about
your family with this 1-question anonymous
This brief YouTube
overviews what you'll learn in this Lesson:
Objectives - Lesson 3 will empower you to (a)
understand bonding, losses, and healthy grief; so you
can (b) identify and finish any incomplete grief, (c) evolve a
pro-grief family, and (d) protect your kids from inheriting toxic [wounds + unawareness].
This Lesson has five parts:
"Good grief" basics,
How to assess someone for incomplete grief.
How to complete unfinished grief;
How to support other grievers
How to grow a "pro-grief" family.
Why Study This Lesson?
Starting in infancy, healthy people automatically form bonds(psychological attachments) to special
people, animals, dreams, places, rituals, freedoms, securities, and objects. By
choice or chance, these bonds break, causing painful losses.
Nature provides an effective way of
accepting our losses over time and resuming normal life - grief or mourning.
If people have several
requisites, they grieve (accept) their losses fully and move
on. Many people who survive
neglect, and abuse ("trauma") lack these requisites
and can't grieve well or at all.Our warp-speed, over-stimulated Western culture pays little attention to
losses and healthy mourning. Older cultures seem to be far more
aware and respectful of this vital healing process.
Premise - Incomplete grief in adults and kids is a symptom
toxic social environments that
don't consistently encourage healthy
Incomplete grief promotes
and a mix of physical and behavioral symptoms like obesity, addictions, "depressions," "rage attacks," insomnia, and
digestive problems. These in turn
stress marriages and
families, inhibit effective parenting, and promote our U.S.
If underlying wounds and unawareness aren't
admitted and significantly reduced,
they and these secondary symptoms may promote premature death.
healthy adults and kids
form bonds and have
major losses to mourn.
Some psychologically-wounded people are unable to bond,
so they have few or no losses to grieve and little
for healthy mourners. Members of typical
dysfunctional, divorcing, and
step families have significant "extra" losses, compared to
intact high-nurturance biofamilies. Many of them lack the requisites for
mourning and they don't know it. .
35 years as a
relationship and family therapist, I have never met one couple that intentionally
''pro-grief'' policy for their home and helped their kids
learn and follow it.
Has your family done this?
Check:on a scale of one (I don't
know how to grieve well) to ten (I'm very knowledgeable about and effective
at mourning broken bonds), rank your ability to grieve now ___. We'll
see if your rating changes at the end of this lesson.
Prepare to Learn
To get the most from this
intro to this Web site and
the premises underlying it.
review how [psychological
wounds and ignorance]
If you're an auditory/visual learner, you can gain many of the key
points in this lesson by viewing all the YouTube videos in
this playlist. Doing all the assignments below will give you a
much more in-depth understanding of how and why to do "good grief"
and build a pro-grief family.
LESSON 3 STUDY GUIDE
This Lesson has 44 "assignments."Do them inorder
at your own pace. Check off each one when you feel finished. Take your time!
Consider studying and discussing this Lesson with a partner who shares your
interest in learning. If you belong to a support group, consider making this
a group project.
Take some weeks to do these assignments thoroly - specially if you're
concurrently reducing psychological wounds (Lesson 1). Edit these tasks
or improvise to better fit you and your situation. Option
- keep a
log or journalas you work through these assignments. Your learning
process is as valuable as the knowledge you gain
Lesson 3, Part 1
- Learn "Good-grief" Basics
3-1) Take this quizto see what you know about bonds, losses and grieving.
__ 3-2) Review these Q&A items about bonding, losses, and mourning.
__ 3-8) Define your
personal grieving policy and discuss it with other family members. Option -
meditate and identify the grieving policy you were taught by
your childhood caregivers - perhaps more by their actions than words. "No policy"
is a policy.
__ 3-9)Ask your mate
(if any), to compose a personal grieving policy, and see how compatible it
is with yours. Discuss any significant differences ands what they mean.
Study and experiment with these steps to practice healthy grief.
the Web for information on "mourning" and "grieving." Other sources will
probably not mention the [wounds + unawareness] cycle or the idea of
grief-levels and phases - and they can still be informative.
__ 3-12)Cement your learnings by practicing these good-grief basics
Now you're well-prepared to do...
Lesson 3, Part 2 - Assess for Incomplete Grief
Part as a win-win
project - either you have no significant unfinished grief, or you can become
aware of any you have so you can complete it.
__ 3-13) Review this
brief report on "complicated" (unfinished) grief and
decide if it may apply
to you and/or someone you care about.
__ 3-14) Study these
worksheets on common abstract
and physical losses. Edit the worksheets as
needed to fit your unique life history
__ 3-15) Meditate and
write down the personal grief policy of each of your primary childhood caregivers, as judged by their remembered
actions. Option - also decide what each caregiver's personal
anger policy was.
Feeling and safely expressing anger
is a requisite for healthy grief.
__ 3-16)Decide if you were raised in a
"pro-grief" childhood - i.e. one with consistent permissions
and encouragements to grieve well. If not, expect some unfinished grief.
__ 3-17) Draw a
timeline of your life from birth to the present. Use your learnings from
the prior steps and mark each major physical and abstract loss (broken
bond) you experienced with an
the timeline. Note the approximate date of each one. Keep in mind that
several small losses can impact you like a big one, and that some losses
happen gradually (like aging). Option - color-code the losses for
physical (say, blue) and abstract (red). Focus on your losses,
not your family's.
__ 3-18) Review
this article on the three levels of normal grief
and each level's typical phases.
__ 3-19) Use these
symptoms of incomplete grief to assess each of your
losses across the years to see if you feel you have fully
accepted each of them and their effects mentally + psychologically + spiritually. Option - label
each major loss as "F" (finished),
"U" (unfinished), or"?" (not sure).
__ 3-20)Options: show the symptoms of unfinished grief to someone who knows you well, and
ask whether they see any of them in you for losses in question. Some
losses are hard to judge (e.g. "I lost my self esteem
between ages 3 and 14"). To be really sure, consider hiring a professional
grief counselor to help you assess.
__ 3-21) If you've
had periods of significant depression, read this. Pills will not
help you break denials, reduce psychological wounds, and resume healthy grief!
__ 3-22) If you or
someone you care about has chronic or explosive anger episodes, read
this. They can be signs of
psychological wounds and incomplete
__ 3-23) Premise:
non-organic addictions are unconscious attempts to reduce
Major losses cause inner pain.If you or someone you care
aboutmay be - or are clearly -
to substances, activities, relationships, and/or mood-states,
incomplete mourning as part of the cause. If this applies to you,
learn more about addictions here
__ 3-24) If you
are significantly overweight and/or are a compulsive overeater -
specially of "comfort foods" (sugar, fat, and carbohydrates) - you may
have a food addiction or "an eating disorder" and incomplete mourning
(inner pain). Someone has observed "Every fat cell is an unshed tear."
__ 3-25)As you assess, note your feelings
and thoughts. Significant anger, sadness, "numbness" (feeling nothing),
anxiety, ands/or avoiding these assessment steps may indicate significant psychological wounds and unfinished grief.
If you have honestly assessed yourself for psychological wounds in Lesson 1 and
for incomplete grief (above), and you believe you have neither, then study the
increased awareness - specially if there are young people in your life:
Lesson 3, Part 3
- Complete any Unfinished Grief
Progress at Lesson 1 and
parts 1 and 2 (above)willprepare you for this
work. Healthy grief is a major payoff for breaking the [wounds +
unawareness] cycle. Expect this work to take "as long as it
takes," and be patient. Motto: "Progress, not perfection!"
Keep your perspective:
facilitating grief is part of the main goals offreeing your Self, raising your knowledge and awareness, and
improving your wholistic health and life.
__ 3-26) Use this
worksheet to clarify your present values about bonding, losses,
and grieving. If any of them discourage you from mourning
completely, revise them so they encourage you. You'll need your true
Self to guide you with this upgrading.
__ 3-27) Review
this article on inner and outer permissions to
grieve. If you don't have solid inner permission, (a) use
parts work (Lesson 1) to identify the subselves who withhold permission, and to (b) negotiate their help in fully accepting the effects of your
__ 3-28) Assess your living and work
and/or school environments for solid outer permissions to grieve. If key
people around you are not genuinely
supportive, seek others
who are. Often they will be
guided by their true Selves.
__ 3-29)Review your current daily
priorities. If "self nurturance"
is not close to or at the top, use
parts work to discover which
and correct it. Part of self-nurturance is setting aside enough
solitary time to grieve, and being patient with the three-level
acceptance (mourning) process.
__ 3-30) If you
haven't already, define your personal grieving policy, and
use it to guide you through these steps and beyond!
- as you do these steps, let key
people know what you're doing and why. Lessons 1 to
3 may significantly change your attitudes and behaviors, which may alarm
insecure (wounded, unaware)
people. They (their false selves) may try to sabotage your efforts, and keep you wounded and
Lesson 3, Part 4
- Seek and give effective grief support
You will encounter people with losses wherever you go - in your
family, workplace, church, and community. Many will be unaware they're ruled
by a false self and may have unfinished grief. They may need knowledgeable,
caring support at times - just like you do.
This Part focuses on
learning what typical grievers need - and don't need.
__ 3-33) Review this perspective
on human empathy. Being able to
empathize with a griever is a major requisite for effective support.
Some psychologically-wounded people
are unable to empathize, and they don't know it.
__ 3-34) From your life experience and all that you've learned here,
write down the specific things that typical healthy
(minimally-wounded) adults and kids need to help them grieve well.
Compare your list to this,
and reflect on who taught you your beliefs. Then update your opinion as needed.
specific things that typical grievers don't need - like hearing...
"I know just how you
feel." No you don't - even if you've had a similar loss.
"Things'll get better with time - you'll see!"
about your or
others' losses - or "(your loss) could be a LOT worse!".
"C'mon - you have SO much
to be thankful for! Look on the bright side!"
"Aren't you over that
"Keep a stiff upper lip!"
(so I can avoid my discomfort with your emotions)"
"Just accept (your loss)
and move on!"
"Don't you ever stop
"Don't you realize you're
depressing everyone?" That's their problem, not yours!
"Honestly - what's the big
deal (about your loss)?"
"I know, I know -
you've told (your loss story) over and over again!" Doing so is part
of healthy grief.
"Let's talk about
something positive for a change." Wounded, uninformed people cast
grieving as negative to diminish their own discomfort.
"Isn't (someone) great?
S/He never lets anything get her down (so you shouldn't either)."
Well intentioned comments like these are usually
discomfort with your emotions (which may trigger their own),
their frustration at not
knowing how to support you; Option - tell them what you
unhealthy grieving values
(Avoid trying to "convert" or "correct" them);
losses and the natural process of three-level grieving; and/or...
lack of real empathy for
you, and/or denial of their own grief.
programs and resources your local hospitals, churches, and mental-health centers have
for grievers. Note programs that acknowledge that losses span
far more than death of a loved one.
Also note that probably no programs will acknowledge the core need of
freeing your true Self to grieve well. (Lesson 1).
3-38) Option - alert any counselors,
teachers, doctors, or parenting programs you find to this
ad-free Break the Cycle! site and online self-improvement course:
Lesson 3, Part
- Grow a Pro-grief Family
Because every family member has losses and needs support at times, "good
grief" is a family affair.
"pro-grief" family is one whose adults are motivated to...
assess for and reduce psychological
wounds (Lesson 1);
learn at least the mourning basics in
evolve, discuss, and live by a healthy-grief
policy, and who...
consistently give all family members and
others (a) permission to grieve well, and (b) effective support as they mourn.
Reflect: in your extended family,
who is responsible for evolving and
using an effective family policy about healthy three-level grief?
To form a foundation for a healthy family grief policy, invite each adult in your family to
read and discuss:
this overview of
five epidemic hazardsthat may
be stressing your family now;
this overview of
the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle; and discuss...
whether your ancestors have
passed on this
cycle to any of you.
Option - each of these articles includes a brief summary YouTube video.
Watch and discuss them together.
__ 3-40) Invite any
psychologically-wounded family adults to study Lesson 1 and consider reducing their wounds -
specially if they care for minor kids or may conceive kids.
The more wounded
your family adults are, the less likely you all will be to forge a pro-grief
__ 3-41) Invite
your family adults to take this Lesson-3
quiz, and then to read these Q&A
items about losses, bonding, and grief. Then encourage open conversation
among all of you to define your family's current grieving policy. Use this
article to guide your discussion. Options
based on what you've learned in this Lesson,
draft what you feel your family's present grief policy is. Then discuss
it with your other adults and older kids.
ask your adults to read this article on
permissions to grieve, and discuss whether your family members give each
other external permission to mourn their losses.
__ 3-42) As
appropriate, ask your family adults (including grandparents) and older teens
to study and discuss this Lesson-3 guide together. Whether they will or not,
model "good grief" for your adults and kids.
Ask other family adults to help you see that your young people learn
(Part 1 above) as part of protecting them against inheriting the [wounds + unawareness]
Back away from the details now. Pause, breathe, and reflect on why you read
this guide. How do you feel - honestly - about committing time and effort to
applying these good-grief ideas?
I feel __ highly motivated
__ moderately motivated __ uninterested in applying these ideas in my
life and family now.
On a scale of one (I don't know how to grieve well) to ten (I'm
knowledgeable about and very effective at mourning broken bonds), rank your
ability to grieve now ___. Compare your answer here to the one at the
top of this lesson. Did it change? Who just answered - your
true Self or
__ 3-44) Finally, take this good-grief quiz again and
affirm your learnings.
This is the self-study guide for the third of seven online self-improvement
lessons designed to
help you protect your family and descendents from
inheriting toxic psychological wounds
Premise - Incomplete grief is widespread and
contributes to major personal, family, and social problems. This Lesson's
combat that by focusing on...
information on bonding, losses, and healthy grief;
yourself or someone else for incomplete grief;
seeking and giving
effective grieving support; and...
how to grow a "pro-grief"
The overall goals
for this Lesson are to motivate and prepare you to build a
"pro-grief" family and to help break the expanding
[wounds + unawareness] cycle burdening most families and our