Lesson 3 of 7 - learn how to grieve well

    grief

    Worksheet: Learn Your Values
    about Losses and Grieving

    Discover what you believe
    and who taught you

    By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
    Member NSRC Experts Council

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      This is one of a series of articles supporting 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 of major losses.

      Typical survivors of childhood trauma (Grown Wounded Children - GWCs) never learned these basics, and risk psychological, physical, and relationship problems from incomplete mourning. This Lesson requires major progress on Lesson 1 - reducing psychological wounds.

      Lesson 3 exists because my clinical research and experience since 1979 with almost 1,000 typical adults and some of their kids suggests that a high percentage of troubled people and families suffer from incomplete grief - and they don't (want to) know it or what it means. Could this apply to you and your family?

      This article assumes you're familiar with...

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

  • self-improvement Lessons 1 and 2

  • these Q&A items, and...

  • these brief research summaries.

Background

      All families (like yours) need healthy-grieving knowledge and pro-grief policies (adult beliefs, values, and rules). Members of typical divorcing families and stepfamilies are at special risk of incomplete grief because of their psychological wounds and major complex losses (broken bonds).

      A value is a personal or group opinion about something's nature or worth. A vital part of any person-al and family grieving policy is the key values that adults hold about bonds, losses, and healthy mour-ning. Most of us adopt and live from the grief (and other) values we saw our childhood caregivers and hero/ines model without much thought. 

      Our American culture has generally discounted the importance of - and requisites for - healthy grief, so most people are only vaguely aware of their grieving values. Their semiconscious values powerfully affect whether family adults and kids have the inner and outer permissions to grieve well that they urgently need.

       This worksheet offers an effective way to identify and assess your grieving values and where you got them, so you can make conscious choices about the values and discuss them with key people. Have you ever tried to define your "good grief" values before? Do you know if they're healthy or not? What are the young people in your life learning about losses and "good grief"?

  Learn Your Values About Grieving, and Where You Got Them

             Use this worksheet to identify...

  • Your key beliefs about feeling and expressing the emotions that follow major losses (broken emotional/spiritual bonds), and...

  • Whether these beliefs are yours (authentic) or someone else's (adopted).

       It's important that your values and beliefs about mourning be yours, rather than - say - your mate's, your parents' or ancestors’, or your religion's. Change these questions and/or add some to fit your situation. Invite important others to answer them too, and share the results non-competitively. Pick a quiet place, and give yourself undistracted time to reflect on each item.

       Note your thoughts and feelings as you proceed, and whether your true Self is guiding your personality. If not, try to free it up, or risk distorted responses to this worksheet. There are no right or wrong answers here - just helpful self-awareness and insights...

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  Key: Circle the symbol that fits your main current belief best: T = "True - I agree," F = "False - I disagree," ? = "I'm not sure," and D = "it depends" (on what or who?).

As I start, I'm aware that I ___________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

1) I define "grieving" as: _____________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

2)  I believe healthy grieving is a learned skill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ( T  F ?  D )

3)  I usually mourn my losses thoroughly and healthily now  . . . . . . . . . . . . ( T  F  ?  D )

4)  The main time people need to grieve is when a loved one has died . . . . .  ( T  F  ?  D )

5) Three people who's actions most influenced my childhood beliefs about feeling and expressing strong emotions are: __________________,  __________________, and ____________________.
   

6)  I can cry when appropriate, without major guilt, anxiety, or shame . . . . . ( T  F  ?  D )

7)  I learned early that females should handle grief by _____________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

8)  If I get angry, key people around me ________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

9) The important people in my life are each supportive and encouraging if I need to cry in front of
    them  ( T  F  ?  D )

10) When the woman who parented me felt deep sadness, she ____________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________


11)  In the home/s I grew up in, it was always OK for everybody to feel and express irritation,
 anger, and rage  ( T  F  ?  D )

12) This has affected my ability to feel and show anger now by: ___________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

13) Some things or feelings I associate with anger are __________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________


14) When I got very sad as a child, I __________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

When I get sad now, I ______________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________


15)  Grieving ends when ___________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________


16)  I now have at least one person in my life with whom I can always safely share my deepest feelings: ( T  F  ?  D ). If "true" - who? _______________________________
   

17)  When the man who parented me felt deep sadness, he _______________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

18)  I'm usually comfortable enough to honestly show my sorrow and intense anger to the key young people in my life these days  ( T  F  ?  D )

19)  My normal reaction to a major personal loss (broken bond) is ___________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

20)  My [mate / mother / father / child(ren) / ex] and I usually share all our important thoughts and feelings promptly about our key tangible and intangible losses. ( T  F  ?  D)

21)  It's totally safe for me to really let my anger out now with my household and family members: I steadily feel sure no one will get (too) hurt, or blame or reject me. (T  F  ?  D )

22)  When the woman who raised me felt intense anger, she _____________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

23)  As far as my (partner's / ex's) ability to mourn well, __________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

24)  When I got very angry as a child, ________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________________________

    ________________________________________________________________________________

Now, I __________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

25)  I get really sad when ___________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

26)  If someone always represses intense feelings, ______________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

27)  The most impactful tangible or abstract losses in my life have been: ____________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________

28)  My closest friends and family know fully about each of these losses now, and what they have meant to me. ( T  F  ?  D )

29) The loss that's most painful for me to recall is ________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    30)  What I learned about grieving from watching my key relatives is _________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    31)  I usually guard against great emotional pain by ______________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    32)  When someone near me gets really angry I _________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    33)  I'm usually empathic, encouraging, patient, and supportive with all important people in my life who
    need to grieve major losses. ( T  F  ?  D )

    34)  When the man who raised me felt anger or rage, he _________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    What I do is ______________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    35)  I can clearly name the major abstract and tangible losses each of the children in my life have
    experienced. ( T  F  ?  D )

    36)  Images or feelings I associate with sadness are ______________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    37) The main message I got about mourning from the culture I grew up in was: ________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    38) The "policy" about grieving in my current family is _____________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    39)  When loved ones feel deep pain, I _________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    40)  I learned early that males should cope with major losses by ____________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    41)  People in my life who have had the hardest time mourning are ___________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    42)  If I'm blocked on grieving a major loss now, it is _______________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    _________________________________________________________________________________

    43)  If I let myself feel my full sadness, I _________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    44)  When it comes to saying final goodbyes, I ____________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    45)  The way to tell if a person is depressed or if they’re grieving is ___________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    46)  When I try to understand and accept major losses, my faith in a loving Higher Power   ________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________ 

    47)  I mourn my losses completely and healthily over time.  ( T  F  ?  D )

    48)  I was undistracted, honest, and thorough in doing this worksheet. ( T  F  ?  D )

    49)  I'd be "better" at mourning if _______________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    50)  A new awareness I have is ________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    51)  I want to share what I've discovered here with _________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    in order to _________________________________________________________________________

    52)  Something else I want to do now is _________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    Right now, I'm aware of _______________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________

    __________________________________________________________________________________


    Thoughts / needs / goals...







 Options

  • see how you do on this quiz about healthy-mourning basics,

  • review these Q & A items about "good grief,"

  • study and discuss Lesson 3 here

  • read this research summary about "complicated" grief. Could it pertain to someone you know?

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      Pause, breathe, and recall why you read this article. Did you get what you needed? If so, what do you need now? If not - what do you need? Is there anyone you want to discuss these ideas with? Who's answering these questions - your wise resident true Self, or someone else?

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