Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thursday's Therapy "Recovery" from Child-Loss...Are You Kidding? ~ Part Two

Thursday's Therapy

"Recovery" from Child-Loss...Are You Kidding? ~ Part Two

Continuing from our Thursday’s Therapy post of two weeks ago, we hear more from Dr. Judith R. Berstein about why the expectation for child-loss grievers to “recover” is cruel:

(If child-loss grievers) are expected to recover by friends, family, experts, and ultimately by themselves, and they cannot do so, they wind up with additional self-doubt or worse.

(Again, Dr. Bernstein's premise) is that the word recovery is a misnomer and creates a fictitious mind-set: that major loss is ultimately wrapped in a neat package and segregated from the rest of experience until it goes away.

This (so-called recovery process), we know, does not happen without serious psychological consequences.

Major loss needs not to be overcome but rather to be put into context.

People don't recover; they adapt. They alter their values, attitudes, perceptions, relationships, and beliefs, with the result that they are substantially different from the people they once were.

Mourning, integration, adaptation.

These are learning processes. Rape victims need to learn to live in a world in which rapists exist. They need to learn how to live with vulnerability, relearn how to trust, and so on.... The bereaved parent has to come to terms with a world in which it is possible for children to die, a world of different hopes and dreams, a world of muted sunsets. The victim never sees life through the same lens again. If you look at it that way, it becomes foolish to ask when victims of trauma should be over it.

If we are to help and understand trauma victims, should we not ask instead where they are in the process of learning to live with what has happened?

Where is that process in five, ten, thirty-years?


{Excuse me while I rant...

I am so proud of Dr. Bernstein as she takes a complete departure from the style of the psychologists who are devising our new diagnostic manual... The pitiable psychologists who are developing the new DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistic Manual V, the psychologists' "Bible" for how they determine appropriate diagnoses for their clients) are devising ridiculous terms for grievers (which of course includes THE worst-case grieving one can have - that of child-loss grieving) such as

~ If your sadness does not disappear after two weeks, your diagnosis will be MAJOR DEPRESSION ~

THAT IS NONSENSE! I can guarantee you no child-loss griever's sadness will be done in two weeks, and most of us DO NOT have MAJOR DEPRESSION!


Dr. Bernstein, in contrast, said that when her research team

"embarked on this study of what happens to people in the aftermath of the trauma of intense grief, we decided that the only way we would gain any knowledge of the moonscape of mourning was to ask those who had traveled to that barren, inhospitable wasteland."

The DSM-V devisers ~to my knowledge~ have never yet had ANY research study consisting of ONLY child-loss grievers.

How, I ask, can you devise diagnoses for grievers when you haven't even studied the most severe grief known to mankind, that of child-loss grief?

Ranting closed. Thank you for your indulgence!}


Dr. Bernstein also quotes a wise researcher:

Ronald J. Knapp, in his scholarly book Beyond Endurance, noted what most bereaved parents actually need to do in their child-loss grief:

All parents eventually develop a primary and fundamental need

  • to talk about this tragic experience and about what they can remember about their child,
  • to reveal their sadness,
  • to release their anger,
  • to allay their guilt,
  • and to have others understand their reactions.
  • (Talking about their grief) is how they remember;
  • (Talking about their grief) is also how they confront the reality of what has happened to them.

Today's content from Dr. Judith Bernstein can be found in her Prologue, pages xvi to xix from her book When the Bough Breaks: Forever After the Death of a Son or Daughter.


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