Love—and Loss—and Life
T he life thread of human interconnection brings with it the certainty of loss through death. Despite the variation in circumstances and their sig-nificance, bereavement will come to us all. The emotions accompanying bereavement are often painful. Sadness, longing, profound unease, guilt, and feelings of losing one’s mind are but a few of the emotions that may overwhelm family members as they respond to the death of a loved one. And yet, over time, most of us experience the loss of a loved one and continue to live a full and productive life with acceptance of loss becoming part of it. For the clinician encountering people who have suffered the loss of a significant other, perhaps the most basic question we ask ourselves regarding bereavement is which responses deserve our intervention skills and which do not? Responding to even this “relatively straightforward” question requires us to acknowledge that the responses to such questions are embedded in a veritable matrix of assumptions and epistemological ways of thinking about human behavior. In the next chapter, we address some of the current assumptions and controversies that precede questions of assessment and intervention, which take up the major part of this book. Prior to that, however, we begin with aspects of the therapists’ own attitudes to loss before we address the phenomenology of loss as experienced by bereaved individuals. Ultimately, it is the therapists’ own attitudes to loss that frame and organize the personal experience of how they approach the encounter with the bereavement of another.