“Lessons in Loss and Living” Helpful Tool for Coping with Grief

  • The only way that I'm aware of to avoid grief is to never feel love. Since most of us wouldn't choose to go through life never loving, we will likely, at one time or another, have to cope with grief and loss.


     Michele A. Reiss, Ph.D. wrote "Lessons in Loss and Living: Hope and Guidance for Confronting Serious Illness and Grief," with that goal in mind. Reiss has spent over 30 years in the field of psychotherapy, counseling people through their grief process.


    Reiss' approach to grief counseling, if the counseling is started while the ill person is still alive, is to help people find ways to make the most out of whatever time they have left together. She says her therapeutic approach for this work is trying to help people "hope for the best while you prepare for the worst." Reiss also focuses on ways to help people keep the dying person's memory alive after death.

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    I like Reiss' reflections about the years when physicians didn't disclose to dying people that they were, indeed, dying. Now, most physicians believe people have a right to know what is happening. I agree. However, Reiss does say that physicians need training in delivering this delicate news.


    She writes, "I now urge the young physicians in my audience to realize that although full disclosure is a good thing, it doesn't have to be delivered like a sledgehammer." In other words, some doctors need training in order to humanize their approach.


    Reiss believes that, "During the ending of life, there is a window of opportunity for amazing growth, great love, meaningful spiritual reconciliation, and everlasting gifts to others." She writes of some moving examples during her therapeutic work.


    Under her section on three "tasks" grieving people should work on, Reiss writes that "The goals of healthy grief resolution are not to forget but to remember and appreciate what was, while still being able to be hopeful about whatever is ahead."


    Gratitude is important to Reiss. She says, "Gratitude is appreciation with a thank-you attached...Gratitude is the opposite of self-pity." I honor her humble acknowledgement that she has learned much from people whom she has counseled. Reiss shows personal growth throughout her book, which speaks well of her as a person.


    Because I've had two very positive experiences with hospice care for family members, I tend to refer people to their local hospice for grief counseling. However, not all of the grief we will experience throughout life is appropriate for hospice counseling sessions. Private counselors like Reiss can help people through many different types of grief experiences.


    Many of us have come to terms with grief through our own methods which can include our spiritual beliefs, meditation, taking care of ourselves physically and/or reaching out to give to others.


    To experience love is human and necessary for most of us to live a satisfying life. To experience grief is nearly universal. Help in coping with that grief comes in many forms, one of which is "Lessons in Loss and Living." The book, published by Hyperion, is available in book stores and online.


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    For more information about Carol go to www.mindingourelders.com or www.mindingoureldersblogs.com.  



Published On: November 27, 2010