It is crucial to remember, as counsellors, that grief is very individual and unique. However, research shows that there are certain common stages and tasks that are shared by most people who are dealing with a loss. One popular construct that describes this hard experience is J. William Worden’s Task Oriented Model.
Understanding the Model
As the title implies, Worden saw healthy grieving as working through a series of specific, common tasks. These need to be resolved to fully integrate the loss – so the person is able to move on with their life. Worden saw this as empowering and freeing for the client as it helps them to find meaning and new hope again. But the work is often hard – and it is easy to get stuck, or to give up before they have recovered from their loss. This is seen in the following comment by Worden in his book Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy, (2001, p27):
“It is possible for someone to accomplish some of these tasks and not others, and hence have an incomplete adaptation to the loss, just as one might have incomplete healing from a wound”.
Worden also points out that for some individuals, the tasks won’t follow a sequential order. However, the key ingredient for progress is being willing to work – and not being a passive recipient of grief.