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A Certified Grief Recovery Coach or Specialist assists people in getting past tragedies like death, divorce, and other losses. They come from various social and professional backgrounds, but they all share the desire to assist others.

Personal Grief Coaching grew from the premise that many people who have experienced a traumatic death can benefit from concentrated one-on-one helping sessions led by a skilled and compassionate caregiver. This caregiver helps the bereaved person by utilizing peer support, heartfelt conversation, and exploration of the specific meaning of the loss for the individual. The easy techniques used in this strategy for assisting grieving persons are founded on the following ideas:

  • Each person’s uniqueness

  • Compassion

  • Peer support

  • Dialogue

Meaning making

An essential, overarching feature of Personal Grief Coaching is the degree to which the interactions between the caregiver and the bereaved person are “customized” according to each unique person’s experiences, needs, capabilities, and intentions.

The approach is based on the practice of “bearing witness,” which re-quires that caregivers “understand that they themselves are the ‘student’ and the client is the ‘teacher’ about the client’s own experience.”

Because every person is unique and the relationship between the helper and client develops dynamically and naturally through the course of their interactions, each individual garners different benefits from Personal Grief Coaching. Examples include a person being better able to:

  • Deal with life in the face of loss and pain

  • Cope with intense emotions

  • Handle family and social relations

  • Understand what roles the deceased played in his or her life

  • Find meaning in what has happened

  • Define his or her ongoing relationship with the person who died

  • Memorialize the loved one

  • Look toward the future

Compassion is practiced in helping sessions through the caregiver ...

  • genuinely sympathizing with the bereaved person’s situation;

  • empathically embracing the person’s sorrow;

  • identifying with the sense of tragedy inherent in the loss; and

  • being hopeful about the transformation of the person’s suffering.

Peer support "is a method of providing and receiving assistance based on... respect, shared accountability, and mutual understanding of what is beneficial. Using peer support features that have been shown to be beneficial, the caregiver interacts constructively with the grieving individual, including:

  • Experiential knowledge, which comes from the helper’s own grief journey

  • Trust, which is built through honesty, unselfishness, and reliability

  • Confidentiality, which creates a safe space for the bereaved person to share his or her thoughts and feelings

  • Individual connectedness, which strengthens a person’s social ties and can help decrease stress, increase psychological health, and improve coping behavior

  • Empowerment, which aids “self-efficacy, self-esteem, and the belief that positive personal change can come about through one’s own efforts”

True dialogue is a powerful type of conversation that involves:

  • Listening, which requires that the helper hear the bereaved person com-pletely and whole-heartedly

  • Respecting, which requires that the helper accept the person’s story of his or her experience as entirely valid and authentic

  • Suspending, which requires the helper to be open-minded and nonjudg-mental about the person’s behavior, ideas, feelings, and beliefs (and which “involves an acceptance of and a caring for the client as a person, with permission for him to have his own feelings and experiences, and to find his own meanings in them”)

  • Voicing, which requires that both the helper and the bereaved person speak in their “own voice” and from their “own authority”

  • Listening, which requires that the helper hear the bereaved person com-pletely and whole-heartedly

  • Respecting, which requires that the helper accept the person’s story of his or her experience as entirely valid and authentic

Meaning making is the method by which a person who has lost a loved one builds "a universe that again'makes sense,' that gives their existence, which has been irrevocably changed, some semblance of meaning, direction, and interpretability." When a person who has experienced loss shares their narrative and touches on the changes that have occurred in their lives as a result of the loss of a loved one, meanings can be examined, including changes in:

Physical surroundings (objects, places, physical health)

  • Relationships with others still living (family, personal, work, social)

  • Places in time (sense of past, present, future) and space (subjective “closeness to” or “distance from” people, events, ideas)

  • Spiritual “grounding” in the world (beliefs, purpose)

  • Relationship with the deceased (love, connection)

  • Identity (who a person is fundamentally, as an individual)

Mimi Rothschild

Mimi Rothschild is the Founder and CEO of the Global Grief Institute which provides Certification training programs forGrief Coach, Trauma Coach, End of Life Coach, and Children's Grief Coach. She is a survivor who has buried 3 of her children and her husband of 33 years. She is available for speaking engagements and comments to the press on any issue surrounding thriving after catastrophic loss. MEDIA INQUIRIES:

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