Grief : Final Reflection : My Grief Process

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Final Reflection: My Grief Process by Jaime Lee Lightle
Course: Art Therapy, Spirituality, Loss and Grief
Instrutor: Claudia Mandler McNight

I would like to explore the two grief theories, Dual Process Model and Meaning Reconstruction as they pertain to losing my father to suicide. I will try to uncover some ways these theories related to my experience, and I will also attempt to address the language surrounding suicide to distinguish it as a “unique grief”. And lastly, I will discuss how my personal grief experience may affect my work as an art therapist through artistic exploration.

First, let’s establish the language of suicide grief as it is unique from other grief. A suicide survivor is someone like me and the millions of others world wide who have lost a loved one to suicide. “To survive means to stay alive, endure, recover after an accident. We do not normally or immediately think of a survivor as someone whole lives after someone else dies” (Smith, 2013, 24). I think this distinction in the language and the meaning it carries with it, gives a different dimension to suicide grief that has always made me feel different from everyone else. I do not say, “I lost my father to cancer” or “my dad got hit by a car”. Even though everyone’s grief is unique, suicide grief is different. My father died, because he willed it so. In addition to all the feelings associated to grief, suicide has the added component of rejection: “he chose death over being with us”. Now that I have addressed the different language and meaning to grief from a suicide survivor’s standpoint, let’s move on.

Early in the Lister et al article, there is a sentence that struck me: “Denial is an important component of grieving” (Lister et al, 2008, 246). Denial as well as shock for a suicide survivor and those who lost a loved one to death, is a normal reaction. Denial is how many of us describe our initial reaction to the news of the death of our loved one.

Let us look at Dual Process Model (DPM) first. DPM has three aspects; the first one is that the process of bereavement has two types of stressors: Loss Orientation and Restoration Orientation. The second aspect of DPM is
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