Page 20 - 2016 Autumn-Winter Issue
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(continued from page 19)                                          Talking Helps Heal Grief

Yalom’s Curative Factors) that he believes significantly          In her groundbreaking work with those who have suffered
help facilitate change in individuals in the group setting.       a loss, Dr. M. Katherine Shear, director of The Center for
The Curative Factors are: (1) Instillation of hope, (2)           Complicated Grief, Columbia University School of Social
Universality, (3) Imparting information, (4) Altruism,            Work, uses the technique of having clients tell their story
(5) The Corrective Recapitulation of the Primary Family           of the death over and over as one of the major strategies for
Group, (6) Development of Socializing Techniques, (7)             resolving complicated grief.
Imitative Behavior, (8) Interpersonal Learning, (9) Group
Cohesiveness, (10) Catharsis and (11) Existential Factors.        Talking Saved My Life
But before we discuss these therapeutic factors let’s explore
why it is useful for the bereaved to talk about his or her loss.  I regularly attend The Compassionate Friends annual
                                                                  conferences and was a founding member of the Burlingame,
Prince Harry Says, “Talk About It”                                California chapter. I have heard countless people say, “The
                                                                  Compassionate Friends saved my life.” When asked how this
I recently read an article written by Dan Bilefskiy in the        happened they say that the group meetings and conferences
New York Times, July 25, 2016. The article, “Prince Harry         give them a chance to talk with others who “understand.”
Says He Regrets Not Discussing His Mother’s Death,” was
based on a speech Prince Harry made at a BBC breakfast            What Happens In Group?
regarding the death of his mother, Princess Dianna, when
Harry was 12 years old. Harry said, “It is okay to suffer. As     So, now let us explore the specifics of how getting together
long as you talk about it, it is not a weakness. Weakness is      in groups helps us. As I stated earlier, Dr. Victor Yalom
having a problem and not recognizing it, and not solving          in his classic 1970 book The Theory and Practice of Group
that problem.” The Prince went on to say that he has only         Psychotherapy identified 11 Therapeutic Factors that he feels
talked about his mother in the past three years and regretted     significantly help facilitate change within individuals in the
he had not done it earlier.                                       group setting. I have taken the liberty of selecting 8 of the
                                                                  11 curative factors, modifying them to reflect the benefits I
Candice Lightner Says, “Don’t Put Grief Off ”                     believe the bereaved can derive from a group setting.

This reminded me of a radio interview we did on Open              Grief Groups: Eight Curative Factors
To Hope radio with Candice Lightner, founder of Mothers
Against Drunk Driving, where she cautioned others not to            1.	 Installation of Hope – Sharing with and supporting
put off mourning. Candice said that after the death of her              others who have lost children, grandchildren or
daughter, Cary, she was so busy lobbying in Washington                  siblings leads to the hope that life can be good again.
D.C. for stiffer penalties for drunk drivers that she didn’t            Being with individuals who are earlier in their grief
grieve for three years. This was painful as friends and family          gives those who are a little further down the road the
by then expected her to be “better”.                                    feeling that they are making progress.

Byron Katie asks, “Who Would You Be                                 2.	 Universality - Just being with other bereaved people
Without Your Story?”                                                    helps the participants know that they are not alone and
                                                                        isolated in their sorrow. Grief is a universal human
My friend Byron Katie, founder of The Work of Byron                     experience and grieving together provides a sense of
Katie, often asks those in her healing workshops, “Who                  connection. Simply being in a group and sitting with
would you be without your story?” Writing and telling the               individuals who have similar issues can be a healing
story of your loved one’s death can change it in positive               experience.
ways. When we hold our stories in our minds and bodies
they become stale and stilted. In fact, the stories you tell        3.	 Imparting of information – Sharing information is
about your losses are not as accurate as you might think.               an important part of the group experience. While it
The act of remembering, says eminent memory researcher                  is not recommended that specific advice or solutions
and psychologist, Elizabeth F. Loftus of the University of              be given, members are encouraged to relate how they
California, Irvine, is “more akin to putting puzzle pieces              have personally handled similar situations.
together than retrieving a video recording.” Groups are a
great place to revisit and examine your story.                      4.	 Altruism - The act of selfless giving without the
                                                                        expectation of a reward helps grievers begin to show
2 0 |We Need Not Walk Alone
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