Loss, Illness and Disability

Every one experiences loss during their life.  Some losses, however, have a profound effect, causing debilitating and long lasting grief.  How a person copes with a particular loss–whether it is of a loved one, of physical health and ability or of hopes and dreams–depends on its particular meaning to that person.  Each loss tends to activates any previous unresolved life experience; the emotional impact may seem way out of proportion–far greater than we would normally expect.

Loss and grief are universal, but each loss is unique to that individual.  In therapy, we uncover the meaning of a particular life event, work through the emotional reactions and put together a plan of action that leads towards acceptance and not only resolution but transformation.

William Worden has a very useful approach to loss that views it in terms of Four Tasks of Mourning:

  • Task 1: Accept the reality of the loss
  • Task 2: Experience the pain of grief
  • Task 3: Adjust to the changed environment and lifestyle
  • Task 4: Withdraw emotional energy and reinvest it in other aspects of life

With disability and illness, I have found that hypnosis can be extremely helpful in coping with pain and mobilizing inner healing resources.

Experience: Between 1986 and 1990, I worked as a psychologist in the Medway National Health Service, UK, providing psychological services for patients with physical disability and chronic illness.  At the same time I led the bereavement service for the local hospice.  Between 1990 and 1993, I provided staff consultation for the Hospice of Metro Denver.