I am repeatedly reminded by my own clients of the importance of being a witness and companion for their painful travels in the strange new world they find themselves in. Sometimes the grieving person simply wants to affirm that they were good, loyal and loving to their lost loved one. Other times they wish to know that they are not crazy for all of the feelings and thoughts they are having. For much of the time spent together in early sessions, grieving clients want to be heard – telling the story of their loss and events leading up to and including the time of death, diagnosis or other loss.
The Exquisite Witness Grief Care Provider will listen more than talk, observe more than act and follow more than lead. I do not use a checklist to gather information but gather what history I need initially from the conversation. I will at some point clarify any impeding misconceptions about the human grief reaction and what can be expected from this difficult part of life’s streaming. Foremost among these is the importance of knowing that there is no one right way to grieve. This is especially useful when working with a bereaved couple or a family or other group. Styles of grieving range from a very structured, intellectual and problem solving approach to a more relational and feelings orientation to grieving.
The Exquisite Witness will be closely attuned to his or her own loss history to the extent that this material does not reduce therapist availability to the client. This Provider will be well grounded in the knowledge base of the complexities and dynamics of the human grief response. Further, the Exquisite Witness will be skilled in a variety of strategically determined interventions. These will be summarized in a future Grief Corner writing.