Outline for Final Loss Across the Lifespan Paper
The purpose of this paper is to integrate the theory and practice principles we have learned and to apply them to a living person’s experience of loss. The outline below is provided as a guide, not a rigid format. Each subsection should be labeled, but not all questions are appropriate to your respondent’s loss. The order is not prescribed- flow of the paper’s narrative is more important than answering questions in order. Although this is a formal paper and proper grammar, syntax, spelling and citation are expected, you may use “I” judiciously (especially in the summary). The paper itself is typically 10-15 pages, not including the interview.
I. The Respondent: Describe the person’s demographics, their developmental age and functioning, and your relationship to the respondent. What intersectional identities impact their loss or their mourning of it?
II. The Loss: Describe the person’s loss, both referring to the words they used (in the transcript, but also your classification of the loss (ie a disenfranchised loss of a loved pet during the adolescent years)).
III. Application of Grief Theory: Think about the information you elicited about how the person experienced their loss and particularly how they believed their grief process evolved. Try to use several sections of the transcript to show the evolution of the grief process over time while possibly applying the questions below to a section or two (remember, each question is not appropriate for all losses).
A. Does the person’s trajectory of grief fit better within classical grief theories, task or process oriented models of grief- classical, or newer post-modern models (Disenfranchised grief; Continuing Bonds; Meaning- making)? (Use appropriate professional literature)
B. How do spirituality/ culture or other aspects play a role in the person’s grief process and/ or meaning- making?
C. What area/s did the person struggle with as their grief evolved and what factors do you assess as critical to why they had more difficulty in those areas?
IV Application of Practice:
A. If you were providing grief work services to this person just after their loss, what models/ theories would inform your assessment and treatment plan? Integrate professional literature.
B. What do you believe the person’s needs continue to be in regards to this loss and what would you recommend professionally to help?
How do you perceive this person’s loss overall?
What did you learn from this experience interviewing them?
15 points- evidence of competent interview and transcription (5 points for flow (open-ended questions); 5 for following respondent’s lead; 5 for completeness) – THIS PART IS GRADED IN THE FIRST PART OF THE ASSIGNMENT _ INTERVIEW AND TRANSCRIPT
15 points- shows analysis of the loss within the theoretical frameworks of loss (5 points for identification of types of loss; 5 for use of relevant loss theories; 5 for analysis)
10 points- shows evidence of skilled application to practice planning (5 for appropriate plan; 5 for connection to the theoretical assessment as driving the intervention)
10 points- follows instructions, has accurate grammar, syntax, citation and writing.
Me: Hi Mimi, how are you doing?
MT: I’m good thanks for asking.
Me: Thank you for coming to meet with me today. I wanted to remind you that you can decide not to participate in this interview at any time. Everything we speak about is confidential, however, I will be using this information to help me write a paper. Are you still willing to participate?
MT: Yes I’m fine with that. (she then signed the consent and we began the interview)
Me: Thank you. What loss experience have you had that you are ready to discuss with me today?
MT: I lost my mother back in 2019.
Me: What was that experience like for you?
MT: That experience was a tough one for sure. It definitely molded who I am today. Dealing with my mom’s loss was rough.
Me: Do you feel like dealing with her loss is on-going? Or is it something you feel you have accepted and dealt with it?
MT: Some days I feel I deal with it and some days I don’t. I just take it day by day. I have those days where I wish I could pick up the phone and talk to her, but I know that I can’t. I feel like it’s an on-going battle for me.
Me: Healing is something that’s on-going, grief doesn’t have a time frame. Your feelings are valid because death is not something you just get over. Especially when you lose someone close to you. How old were you at the time you lost your mom?
MT: I was 28 years old
Me: Oh okay, who else did this loss affect?
MT: My older brother, my aunt and my grandmother of course because that was her youngest daughter. This is the second daughter my grandmother had to bury so she seemed a little better this time around, but she still cries. It even affected my dad and I was shocked by that because they haven’t been together in years, but my mom’s death affected him alot.
Me: Do you feel at times you have to suppress your feelings to support your loved ones?
MT: I feel like sometimes I do.
Me: What are some times you felt you suppressed your own feelings?
MT: I would say a few weeks ago when I was talking to my niece, she was saying that she misses my mom, and it was hard for me not to cry, but I didn’t cry because I didn’t want her to cry or see me crying.
Me: What are some things that people have said to you trying to be supportive, but ended up triggering you or upset you instead?
MT: That’s a good question. I don’t think I have experienced that. However, one of my professors works at a breast cancer research center, and she didn’t know that my mom passed away from breast cancer, and she kept bringing it up every class. I ended up breaking down and I emailed her and let her know. She apologized and referred me to a grief counselor. Other than that I haven’t experienced what you asked.
Me: Oh okay. Is everyone in your family comfortable with talking about the death of your mom? Or is it something that’s not really talked about?
MT: We don’t really talk about it as much. I feel like my mom did her best to prepare us when she would remind us that she had stage 4 breast cancer. She showed me what I needed to do and teach me how to take care of things while she’s gone, even when I was in denial. My grandmother talks about her from time to time. She will say she misses my mom, or say she had a dream about my mom, but we don’t really talk about it.
Me: How does that affect you?
MT: Not talking about it?
MT: umm some things I just hold in because I don’t want to talk about it. I feel like if I talk about her I’m going to cry, and I don’t want to cry.
Me: Do you feel that crying is something negative?
MT: No, I think it’s a positive thing.But I work alot and I don’t want to cry at work. I’ll be thrown off balance if I start to cry.
Me: Crying can allow you to release and you can regroup and reset once you let it out. Do you feel you avoid dealing with her death?
MT: Yes I feel like I do that by working so much. Before my mom got sick, I used to work with her, but not as strenuous. Once she got sick I picked up a third job, and as she worsened, I worked more and more. Now that she’s not here I work like crazy still. That can be tough because I feel like I’m shoving things under the rug. I would rather fill my time up with work.
Me: How has that affected you?
MT: It’s tiring and I overwork but I keep doing it. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a life because all I do is work. But I feel like if I’m not working all the time I’m going to think about my mom.I don’t know if I’m mentally prepared for that. And that’s scary so I don’t want to do something out of the ordinary.
Me: What I’m hearing is that you would rather work then explore your own life because you’re afraid you don’t know how to face life without your mom. Is that correct?
MT: Yeah something to that degree. Well for the most part I feel like I’ve done pretty well with my mom not being here, but like I said all I do is work. And I don’t want to keep working all the time.
Me: What was the most difficult part of the loss for you?
MT: I would say all of it. I can’t pinpoint what was more difficult than the other. All of it was difficult, but I learned to manage it all.
Me: Do you feel like you’re managing although you work to keep your mind occupied?
MT: sometimes no, sometimes yes. It’s like having your good and bad days.
Me: When your mom passed away, what do you feel you lossed?
MT: unconditional love. Like my dad loves me, but it’s not the same. That’s a very big part of it. And my mom used to remind me to do things and she would call me if I’m not home between 11-12 at night. And my dad sometimes calls me days later. And that’s something I’m not used to yet. And I asked my dad why he doesn’t treat me like my mom, because she was always there. So that was a great loss because I’m used to her calling me and conversing with me. I’m trying to get through it, but I miss that.
Me: So you’re used to someone checking on you?
MT: yes. And I’m sure my dad doesn’t mean any harm, but he’s not used to doing it because my mom was the one to do it because I lived with her. I lived with her my whole life.
Me: That sounds difficult. I’m sorry for your loss, thank you for sharing.
MT: I’m still learning how to let go, but it;s hard for me to let go completely because that’s my mom. I take it one step at a time.
Me: What do you feel you need to let go?
MT: Some of her things. I packed up the entire apartment and it’s in my storage unit. And I know I know I need to let things go because I can’t keep it forever. But I feel that if I let her things go it’s going to trigger me. I gotta try to find the help to let go of her things. Even my brother asked for certain stuff and I said no. If I let go I don’t know what it’s going to do to me.
Me: umm I see. How did you express your emotions when you lost your mom?
MT: I started writing in a journal or talking to my nana. I also talk to other people who lost their mom, that’s very helpful.
Me: How have your emotions progressed over time?
MT: I’ve grown since my mom passed. I depended on her for everything , but she also prepared me. I feel like I’m making it work, but I still have some work to do. I moved into my dad’s house because I didn’t want to keep feeling alone. When my mom passed away I had my dog, but he’s not a human, I couldn’t talk to him. So I put myself back in school to finish my BSW, and moved in with my dad to save money and so that I wouldn’t be alone.
Me: Do you still feel alone living with your dad?
MT: Yes because I don’t see him as much due to always working. We have a lot of phone conversations.
Me: It sounds like you’re taking steps towards healing.
MT: Yes my mom was preparing me, but nothing can prepare you for something like losing your mom.
Me: How did other people respond to the loss?
MT: my brother was numb, my grandma has her days. My brother and I aren’t speaking which makes it difficult for me. But my grandma did express that she is happy God took my mom before COVID because we wouldn’t have been able to be there for her in the hospital during the pandemic. That made both of us smile when she noted that.
Me: Were you affected by their response to her death?
MT: No because we all knew it was coming.
Me: At what point did you feel your loss was worked through or resolved?
MT: It’s never resolved.
Me: Right and I think we mentioned that previously. What was the hardest thing to keep doing after the loss?
MT: Living in the apartment and hearing other people talk about things they were doing with their moms because my mom is no longer here.
Me: Is there anything positive in your experience with this loss that you can reflect on?
MT: I promised her I would go back to school, and I did. I am in school now getting my BSW. And I am also doing well with taking care of my repsonsibilities. That’s about it.
Me: You were able to handle your responsibilities although you thought you couldn’t do it without her.
MT: It is frustrating when people say things like “I don’t know what to say or do” there’s nothing anyone can say or do to make it better besides picking up the phone or listening when I call. Losing my mom helped me see that I have a lot of strength. I was weak before because my mom did everything for me, including cleaning my room.
MT: LOL yes I know.
Me: How hard was it for you to participate in this interview?
MT: I would say it wasn’t hard, but I’m not used to discussing her death to this magnitude. I usually just tell people she died from breast cancer and that’s it. It’s always on the surface. This interview has shown me that maybe if I join some sort of support group It may help me alot, because I actually feel a little better after talking about it.
Me: That’s great. Thank you so much for your participation and I wish you all the best on your dealing journey.