bereavement

Posted by on Nov 17, 2016 in | 0 comments

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  • Creating stories of hope: A narrative approach to illness, death and grief— Lorraine Hedtke

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    A narrative approach allows psychosocial teams to stand alongside children who have cancer, or life-threatening illnesses, and their families at critical times and to create stories of agency. Rather than dwelling on stories of loss and despair that potentially enfeeble families, a narrative approach builds on stories of strength that engender hope by asking questions that separate the person from the problem. Developing such stories supports people in taking action against the effects of cancer. It also facilitates the formation of a legacy that can sustain family members, even after the death of a child. This legacy serves as the foundation for remembering the dead, folding their stories into the lives of the living, and constructing lines of relational connection that can transcend physical death. Not only do families benefit from this approach, but the psychosocial team that provides professional and medical services can be uplifted through witnessing practices of strength and love in the face of hardship.

  • Re-thinking deathbed forgiveness rituals— Lorraine Hedtke

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    In this article, I want to question how forgiveness has been described in recent medical models of death and bereavement. I believe that these models have at times promoted unnecessary deathbed conversations in which awkward attempts to rush the process of forgiveness may serve only to further distance us from our connections with our deceased loved ones. I also want to offer some alternatives to commonly held assumptions in the discourse of forgiveness. To begin though, I will consider some of the common modernist understandings of forgiveness that influence work with people who are dying.

  • Saying hullo, goodbye, or both? Multi-storied re-membering practices to assist women in the transition after the loss of a male partner to suicide— Marnie Sather

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    This paper explores the complex experiences of women who have lost a male partner to suicide after experiencing violence from that partner. These circumstances often result in women trying to rise from the ‘stigma’ of violence and suicide. This paper describes how using multi-storied re-membering narrative practices creates space for women to speak of their multitude of experiences. These stories illuminate agency and hopes for the future for the women. They also offer ways free of a double taboo: in relation to suicide and in relation to men’s violence against women.

  • Still alive: Counselling conversations with parents whose child has died during or soon after pregnancy— Helene Grau Kristensen and Lorraine Hedtke

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    When a baby dies, before or after his or her birth, we (counsellors and lay people alike) are often at a loss as to how to help. This article addresses the delicate conversations needed to demonstrate how relational narratives can live on after the death of a baby whether he or she dies in utero, miscarried or born still. Using re-membering practices and narrative counselling, we explore how a deceased child’s ongoing identity can continue to inform sustaining narratives for those living with grief.

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  1. I’m Clayre Sessoms from Vancouver, BC, Canada, traditionally known as Coast Salish Territories. I acknowledge that my work takes place on the ancestral, unceded, and occupied territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Nations of the Coast Salish People whose relationship with the land is ancient, primary, and enduring. I’m an uninvited settler in what is colonially known as Vancouver. Because my place of work is on stolen land I commit to support a reconciliation, which includes reparations and the return of land. Here I study counselling psychology and art therapy, and I get to incorporate narrative therapy at my practicum placement, a site that provides free counselling services for LGBTQ2S individuals.

    These materials help me to begin to wrap my head around the complexities of narrative therapy. I especially enjoyed learning about how others have used narrative therapy in practical counselling settings.

    I’m moved by how we often tend to hear, accept, or retell the thinnest stories of our lives and the lives of others. I imagine that not valuing the richness of an individual’s diverse range of stories, perhaps, it has been much easier to cling to tired old preconceived notions about others, which can cause undue harm.

    I’m left thinking about the TEDTalk by Chimamanda Adichie about the dangers of accepting a singular story of someone else, rather than leaning in and committing to understand the wholeness of that person’s narrative.

    I look forward to continuing to learn. Thank you to The Dulwich Centre for providing this accessible forum. <3

  2. in what ways have you entered into collaborations before? What made these collaborations possible?

    As a peer worker most of my work was entering into collaborations with young people. I would use curiosity to further inquire into their experience, and looking back wow these narrative practices would have been amazing to use in our youth group discussions! We would use art mostly in telling stories. Many of the young people heard voices and saw characters only they could see. They would enjoy painting these voices, externalising the character, giving it a name and talking about the story and nature of the relationship between the voice and the character. I also enjoyed illiciting these stories, as I could tell they would begin to separate themselves from the voices, allowing for guilt and shame to reduce.

    What might make it hard to enter into these practices?

    The one difficult way of entering into these practices was the note writing. The managerial culture of my last workplace meant it was not considered good practice to have clients sit with us to write notes. In fact most clients probably were unaware that workers did regularly make notes each time they had contact with the centre. We were a strengths based centre that thrived on person centred practice. I think there is a bit of a stereotype that note writing is quite clinical and removed from person centred practice, hence a certain avoidance of bringing up notes in front of clients.

    If these ways of working fit for you, what next steps could you take to build partnerships/collaborations in your work?

    I definitely believe I could continue to use art to help young people tell their alternative stories. In mental health many workers draw thin conclusions of clients – bipolar, poor attachment, violent, with even their strengths really talked about in third person. It would be great to start drawing peoples strengths out with the use of story telling, so that clients can start to own their strengths, rather than have clinicans cherry pick these out.

  3. Thank you to Tileah for a wonderful presentation. I love hearing the word “yarn” used in this powerful way (Americans also have that term). The practice of “translating”, of shifting concepts into language that can be more usefully heard, is very powerful. As coaches we can make good use of this to help clients uncover their hidden or forgotten resources.

  4. These stories are amazing examples of what we can discover when we hold onto our “beginner’s mind” and remember that the other person (client, patient) has the information and understanding, not us. We talk a lot in leadership development about “co-creating” and I think this is a beautiful example of two very complementary roles: the person who has the story and the person who helps to explore and shape it.

  5. I like the idea of narrative – there is something about giving people the power to create a narrative, rather than simply appearing in a story told by someone else. Within the narrative metaphor, I especially enjoy the fabric metaphor – the idea of strands. These may touch each other, or not, may go well together in tone or color, or not. But again, there is some power in creating and weaving the narrative.
    In my own work with coaching and leadership development, I find that the emphasis on narrative(s) helps make things more tangible, and therefore brings them to their true scale, instead of letting them take on imaginary and unclearly described proportions.

  6. I love this. Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger. Such a powerful sentiment. Sometimes through trauma, it is hard to access the words that really encapsulate that experience – though using the written word does help us access those hard to utter parts of our memories … in those cases though perhaps the story we tell ourselves is not one that makes us feel strong in the first instance – so finding a way to tell that story in a way that focuses on the strength of surviving to tell that story is just amazing!

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