Grief and Grieving

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

This is another area that I find is lacking as a resource, especially for seniors/older adults-Grief Groups. If you think about it, which segment of the population is most likely to need this? If you guessed seniors, I believe you would be correct.

A comment I hear often is. “I have another funeral to go to.” “Too many of my friends are dying.” I am sure you have heard these or similar comments as well.

As I work with seniors this is an area of interest for me particularly as my clients are older as in 80+ for the most part.

If a client wants to discuss this topic with me, I allow it. This is where they are at. But it is important to remember that as a helping professional you have to be open to discussing grief, comfortable with it and to have reviewed the literature as well as to perhaps familiarize yourself with the stages of grief.

One of my favorite authors on this topic is Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

Her many years of research focuses on 5 Stages of Grief:

1- Denial

2- Anger

3- Bargaining

4- Depression

5- Acceptance


Everyone grieves differently, for different lengths of time and will go through the stages at a different pace.

Further research on the web brings up the 7 Stages of Grief:

1- Shock and Denial

2- Pain and Guilt

3- Anger and Bargaining

4- Depression, Reflection and Loneliness

5- The Upward Turn where one is starting to adjust to the changes

6- Reconstruction and Working Through it

7- Acceptance and Hope


Both models are good and I am sure accurately describe the process one who is grieving goes through.

As helping professionals we must be comfortable with this issue in order to offer the best assistance to our clients and like end-of-life issues-perhaps to reflect and find out where we ourselves are at.

I would like to share a poem which I feel could assist with grief.

“Grief is like a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.

The lessons that come from grief come from its unexpected moves, from its shifting view of what has gone before and what is yet to come.” – C.S. Lewis

4 thoughts on “Grief and Grieving”

  1. I am glad that you recognize the importance of grief. I am also a social worker like you work has been working with seniors. Presently – self employed as a counseling and grief specialist and the population of people I work with are family caregivers of individuals with dementia so they are mainly seniors. I have just recently piloted a 6 week group for family caregivers who want to strengthen their resiliency to provide care and strengthen their own well being. I work from a grief and loss perspective and in this group am applying the 3-A Acknowledge, Assess, Assist Approach which I developed to address the loss and grief that dementia family caregivers experience. The group is going well with the participants motivated to make change through facing their situational losses from having a family member with dementia and thus working towards moving forward with strength.

    1. Glad to know there are others out there with a similar professional interest!
      I find many professionals are not comfortable working in this area which is a shame in some ways….we will all be older one day and well, what will we want when we are older?

  2. Just came across this post. We certainly live in a “death denying society” which makes it taboo to even talk about the issue. I have had the privilege of working in the field of Loss and Bereavement for over 15 years. I support individuals who have experienced a death in their family as well as others who struggle with secondary losses such as: Loss of trust, loss of relationship, loss of self esteem. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you feel someone may benefit from my services. Keep up the good work!

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