Grief Is an Emotion Term Paper

Pages: 18 (4573 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Psychology

However, more recent research suggest that sudden death overwhelms people so much that they are not capable of even beginning the mourning process, which means the grieving process is postponed (Fast 2003). Additionally, research has found that grief caused by sudden death is more likely to cause the bereaved to feel helpless, guilty and to blame someone for the death (Fast 2003). Fast (2003) also explains that in cases where the decease has been murdered there are also legal issues that the bereaved must attend to that may further postpone grief. In his research, Worden (1991) found four tasks involved in the resolution of grief,

"(1) accept the reality of the loss; (2) Work through to the pain of grief; (3) Adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing; (4) emotionally relocate the deceased and more on with life. The first step refers to overcoming the denial that often accompanies loss, an effect even more pronounced in sudden death. The second step involves experiencing and processing the sadness that comes with the loss of a loved one. The third group of tasks involves accepting and learning the different roles, skills, and ideas necessary to live without the deceased. The fourth step refers to the need to find a realistic way of thinking, emotionally and cognitively, about the deceased, so that the mourner can go on with his or her life and form new relationships (Worden, 1991; Fast 2003)."

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This research demonstrates that practitioners and grievers are faced with a unique situation when addressing grief caused by the sudden death of a loved one. The research suggests that this type of grief is more intense and prolonged than the grief that occurs with an expected death. The research also insists that people confronting this type of grief often delay the grieving process to deal with legal matters.

With these things being understood, it may be necessary for bereaved individuals to receive some kind of counseling. Such counseling may include expressive therapies, which will allow the individual to express their feeling in an unconventional manner. For the purposes of this discussion we will focus on expressive writing as a form of expressive art therapy.

Expressive Writing

Term Paper on Grief Is an Emotion That Assignment

According to Sommer and Williams (1994), "Expressive therapy refers to the group of modalities based on visual, literary, and performing arts that includes art, dance / movement, music, poetry, and drama therapy/psychodrama (Sommer and Williams 1994)." The authors assert that Expressive therapist clinicians exist at the master's and doctoral levels and are specifically trained and registered in these modalities. Bowman (2003) asserts that the expressive arts have become essential to treating grief.

The form of expressive therapy that is often used is expressive writing. Cook and Dworkin (1992) assert that writing during the grieving process has been proven therapeutic. The authors insist that writing has the ability to decrease "the intensity of feelings through "giving grief words" and helping the person gain a different perspective on a disturbing event ( McKinney, 1976; Cook and Dworkin 1992)." Other researchers seem to agree with this assessment. In his book Opening Up" The Healing Power of Confiding in Others, James W. Pennebaker 1990), asserts that writing can assists in sorting through the emotions that are present during the grieving process. The author explains that talking is actually one of the best therapies for grief (Pennebaker 1990). However, he reports that writing can serve some of the same purposes and ease the grieving process (Pennebaker 1990). Pennebaker contends that writing and other expressive therapies are able to bring the individual closure by providing organization of thought (Pennebaker 1990).

Likewise, Lepore and Smyth (2002) assert that writing is an activity that facilitates healing. The authors assert that writing expressively about the problems that one faces produces advantageous outcomes (Lepore and Smyth 2002). In their book the authors explore expressive writing as it relates to many different scenarios in life including, relationships, illness and grief (Lepore and Smyth 2002). The authors insist that expressive writing can greatly ease the pain of grief and is beneficial to the various systems of the body including the immune system (Lepore and Smyth 2002).

Cook and Dworkin (1992) argue that expressive writing is particularly useful for adolescents dealing with grief. According to the authors, "Adolescence is a period in which writing skills are developing as advanced cognitive skills are acquired, and many teenagers keep journals, try writing poetry or songs for the first time, or correspond with a friend or relative. They are experimenting with putting thoughts and feelings in written form, making it a natural avenue to explore one's feelings of loss (Cook and Dworkin, 1992)."

These researchers insist that expressive writing is a key component in facilitating the healing of bereaved persons. The authors insist that writing presents the bereaved with the opportunity to organize and document their feelings. In turn, they are able to perform self-examination and analyze the relationship that was lost.

Letter Writing

Cook and Dworkin (1992) suggest that expressive writing can be administered in different ways. The authors explain that writing a letter to the deceased is the most common approach that practitioners use (Cook and Dworkin, 1992). This technique allows the person who is grieved to focus on unexpressed feelings (Cook and Dworkin, 1992). Muller and Thompson (2003) also report that this method proved effective with subjects that were partaking in bereavement counseling. Montgomery et al. (2001) assert that there are

"many uses for the technique of letter writing in conjunction with traditional counseling interventions. For example, issues of grief, mourning, and forgiveness have been addressed via letter writing in which clients use this exercise to express feelings of grief, perform leave-taking rituals, communicate with a lost person or object, or develop empathy with a transgressor (Montgomery et al. 2001; pg 295)."

In addition, this technique allows the person to say goodbye, this is especially important if the person died unexpectedly (Cook and Dworkin, 1992). The authors insist that this form of expressive writing can also allows the grieving individual to make peace with the deceased person if their relationship was in conflict before the death (Cook and Dworkin, 1992).

Letter writing is essential because it brings about closure. One of the serious problems with treating grief, especially when the death was sudden, is that the bereaved did not have the opportunity to say goodbye. Letter writing gives the bereaved the opportunity to say good-bye and clarify any conflict that may have been present in the relationship.


In addition to writing a letter to the deceased, counselors may encourage the bereaved to keep a diary or journal. Ballou (1995) reports that journal writing encourages clients to record their personal thoughts, these thoughts can be current feelings, plans for the future or past experiences (Ballou, 1995). The author explains that these entries become a tool through which understanding, healing and self-discovery take place. Ballou, (1995) asserts that over a period, the journal can be reviewed, analyzed, reflected upon, or simply acknowledged as an accurate reflection of self (Ballou, 1995).

Drake et al. (1996) assert that journaling can be a challenge for clients because it forces them to live in the present. The authors explain that journaling encourages the bereaved or depressed "to get out of automatic pilot -- off cruise control" that masters their thoughts and behavior. They believe the journaling allows the patient to embrace the truth and choose to participate again in daily life. The authors contend that "Without awareness, clients are dragged around by past beliefs, desires, expectations, and history to which they cling, unconscious of what is happening (Merzel, 1991). Awakening to the choice to be fully present is the client's first step to freedom from the bondage of the past and freedom to reclaim personal power (Drake et al., 1996)."

Cook and Dworkin, (1992) point out that journal writing can allow for the expression of feelings without the threat of judgment. The author also insists that the nature of writing is therapeutic. The author explain

"The translation of experience into language helps the person assimilate and integrate it, since the process of writing is slower than talking and gives more opportunity to get at the core of feelings. It also provides documentation of a mood or feeling state. When adolescents are encouraged to keep a journal during the course of therapy, they are often impressed with their growth when they go back and read entries made several months earlier. This reinforces their sense of progress and validates the difficult journey they have taken in their recovery from bereavement (Cook and Dworkin, 1992)."

Journaling is a form of writing that dates back to ancient times. In recent years, counselors have recognized the benefits of journaling in various areas of mental health. Journaling is significant in treating grief because it allows the bereaved to track their progress. It also allows them to reflect on the event that caused the grief.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Grief Is an Emotion.  (2005, February 12).  Retrieved September 25, 2020, from

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"Grief Is an Emotion."  12 February 2005.  Web.  25 September 2020. <>.

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"Grief Is an Emotion."  February 12, 2005.  Accessed September 25, 2020.