Hope, counselling and complicated bereavement reactions


  • John R. Cutcliffe

    1. Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing, Sheffield University, Sheffield and Practice Development Co-ordinator, RCN Institute, Oxford, England
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John R. Cutcliffe The University of Sheffield, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Wensley Court, Rotherham General Hospital, Moorgate Road, Rotherham S60 2UD, England.


Hope, counselling and complicated bereavement reactions This paper examines the relationship between hope and complicated bereavement, and then considers if current bereavement counselling theory addresses this issue. Bereavement can be considered to have a number of phases or stages which need not occur in a linear fashion, but this does not make bereavement a mechanistic process. Whilst there are commonalities in people's experience of bereavement and loss, the experience of bereavement is unique to each individual. A person needs to reach a state of acceptance, to resolve conflicts related to grieving in order to complete the bereavement. Yet all individuals do not achieve this resolution naturally. Some individuals appear to experience delay in this process, and this can be described as a complicated grief reaction. Unequivocally bound up with bereavement are hope and hopelessness, with a completed bereavement process being bound up with the re-emergence of hope and complicated bereavement process being bound up with continued hopelessness. There are many theories of bereavement counselling, and commonalities exist between these theories. Whilst the theories indicate implicitly the re-emergence of hope in the bereft individual as a result of the counselling, there is a dearth of specific reference to how this inspiration occurs. Since the re-emergence of hope appears to be linked to a person's movement towards a completed bereavement reaction, and this movement is facilitated by means of bereavement counselling, this paper concludes that there is a clear need to examine how this resolution occurs.