A mindfulness based intervention for traumatically bereaved individuals discovered by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore. This model encompasses a series of supportive therapeutic actions that help increase emotional tolerance and alleviate symptoms while honoring the deceased. This is the primary intervention offered at North Valley Center for Hope.
An intervention that facilitates the integration of both mind and body into a deep awareness and acceptance of the present moment. This allows for painful feelings to be acknowledged without judgment and fear. Research shows that Mindfulness-based interventions have helped with grief and loss, anxiety, depression, insomnia and substance abuse recovery.
An approach that embraces the client as the expert in their own lives and personal experiences. By being within a supportive atmosphere, the client's strengths are identified and needs supported. This approach is non-directive so the client can naturally self motivate with therapeutic support. This in turn encourages opportunities for growth as well as deep meaning and purpose.
Cognitive behavioral techniques are used to help modify distorted or unhelpful patterns in thinking which often result in unwanted behavior. When working on grief and loss, some CBT techniques can assist the client with reconstructing meaning about the death and possible guilt in their life now in the absence of their loved one. While being carefully mindful of any past and current trauma, symptoms such as emotional numbness, sleep disturbances and recurring thoughts about the traumatic experience can be significantly reduced. CBT is found to be extremely helpful in reducing anxiety, panic attacks and with mild depression. CBT often uses practices such as homework, skills activities and charts that can be applied to situations the client encounters in their daily life.
Traumatic grief is described as the unique and tragic experience of losing another in a sudden, unexpected or unnatural way. Some of these events include suicide, homicide and accidents such as from an automobile, drug overdose or drowning. Other times the traumatic loss occurs due to an unknown medical issue or when a person goes missing with no explanation or outcome. Every child loss under any circumstance is untimely and considered a traumatic loss. Furthermore, witnessing a death, being blamed for such or suffering harm themselves in the event also adds another level of complexity. Although every loss can be difficult and painful, traumatic grief includes not only grief over the losing the person but also the devastating effects of the traumatic event itself. This can result in a stress response to trauma and yet another layer to the already difficult process of grief.
Some of the grief symptoms and stress responses experienced during a traumatic loss include: intrusive preoccupation with the deceased, yearning and pining, searching for the deceased, developing a shattered new worldview of mistrust and insecurity or a feeling as if part of one's self has died with their loved one. Significant health problems can arise due to intense level of grief. It is not uncommon for the symptoms to develop into post traumatic stress (PTS).
It is also important to note the effects of disenfranchised losses, which refers to any grief that goes unacknowledged or invalidated by society. These losses are often minimized and not understood by others which makes it particularly difficult to grieve and in a sense, further traumatizing the individual left behind. There are unfortunately numerous types of these losses that typically go unrecognized. Some primary ones include the following:
1. The mechanism of the death is stigmatized such as in a suicide or homicide.
2. Miscarriages and stillbirths.
3. Ones in which the relationship is stigmatized such as an ex-partner, same-sex partner, those incarcerated or in some way inadvertently present in another's death.
4. The death of a sibling of any age is often overlooked due to the focus being on the parent who lost a child.
5. The way someone is grieving is stigmatized such as either extreme grief responses or a complete absence of any outward grief.
6. Grief over those with severe mental illness, dementia or a cognitive disability.
Within families the grief response will vary. There is no right or wrong way to feel, no timeline or expected path despite what society may say. North Valley Center for Hope believes in meeting you where you are with both compassion, deep listening and safety to feel whatever you need to.