"Surviving Grief" Bereavement Course


The course is designed for use in a small group setting, with no more than six or seven participants. While we discuss different aspects of grief, there is a lot of flexibility to the programme, according to the needs of the group – every group is different!

Surviving Grief is structured around the image of a river journey and uses the ‘Tasks of Grief’ theory developed by William Worden, who suggested that rather than a passive process (stages that happen to you), grief is something that people can actively work through.

Worden’s first task is to accept the reality of the loss. Relating to the river journey, the image we use is that of a life-raft being carried from a tributary by the current into a powerful river that is heading towards a waterfall. You are not going where you wanted to go, and you know that you are in for a rough ride, but you can’t change direction and you can’t do anything about it. Life has changed forever! Change and how we manage change is a key concept and we explore this.

Once the loss becomes ‘real’ to people, this springboards them into Worden’s second task, to process and work through the pain of grief. The image is one of the bottom of the waterfall, getting thrown around by the turbulence, sucked under by eddies and whirlpools and feeling bashed and bruised by rocks. This session focusses on emotions and grief reactions in all areas of life – physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual.

Worden’s third task is to adjust to an environment where the deceased is missing. When a loved one dies, many people need to redefine themselves and the world around them. This includes learning new roles previously filled by the other person. Using the river image, the river is wider and smoother, but progress may be impeded by logjams. There may be  unexpected triggers to grief that hit unexpectedly, like rapids. The session focusses on different grieving styles, memories, and things that may impede progress, like the need for forgiveness.

Finally, Worden talks about having the ability to reinvest emotional energy into life and living. This task is achieved when the bereaved find an appropriate place for the deceased in their emotional life, so that they can go on living effectively in the world. In the river image, the river divides, and choices can be made about which direction to go in, and who you want to take with you in your boat. During this session we are more future focussed, thinking about goals and choices, and how they can be achieved.