NACOS 2.1: Worden’s first task, which is to “Accept the Reality of the Loss.”

NACOS 2.1: Worden’s first task, which is to “Accept the Reality of the Loss.”

Topic #2: Recognizing patterns of grief in congregations and cultures utilizing William Worden’s Four Tasks of Mourning. Grief is defined as an adaptation to unwanted change.

2.1 Using the mental model of Worden’s Four Tasks of Mourning, consider how your congregation is coping with the loss of “the way we have always done it before” due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Who – an individual or a group – is an example of what it is like to be struggling with the first task (which is to “Accept the Reality of the Loss”)?

QUOTE: Tasks of Grief
The work of William Worden (in Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy, 1992) conceptualizes the process of grief as a series of “tasks” that need to be accomplished before mourning is completed. His framework provides a somewhat structured paradigm for organizing the work of grief and healing, which often seem like such amorphous and intangible experiences.

Task One – To Accept the Reality of the Loss
While the initial reaction to the news of a death may be shock and disbelief, these feelings are usually replaced by a dawning recognition of the reality of what has taken place. As difficult as it might be, we are gradually able to acknowledge that the deceased is gone from our lives forever. When there is time to anticipate the loss (e.g., when someone dies from a chronic illness), we may be less likely to get stuck in denial of the reality of the death. Some forms of denial are obvious, like discussing the deceased in present tense or retaining the deceased’s possessions. Other forms can be more subtle, like denial that our relationship with the deceased had any meaning. This latter type is an attempt to mitigate the significance of our loss. When the death has been by suicide, we may also see a denial of that reality, e.g., many schools report the dilemmas caused by parents who refuse to accept the suicide of their child. They insist the death was accidental even though the circumstances suggest otherwise and place the school in the difficult position of not being able to hold honest discussions with students or faculty. [1]

What does it look like when people refuse to accept the reality of the Coronavirus pandemic?
What behaviors do we see in your congregation or community of people who “do not accept the reality of” the Coronavirus pandemic?
Why would you think they are stuck? What’s their motivation?

ASSIGNMENT QUESTION: (in the comments on Facebook)
Describe a particular person stuck at this task of mourning, either in your community or in your congregation. What would you do to help them?

SOURCE – Footnotes:
[1]   Tasks of Grief, Suicide Prevention Program.

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