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HUM 321 M7D1: Grief as a Response to Illness and Loss

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HUM 321 M7D1: Grief as a Response to Illness and Loss

This is an opportunity to integrate all that you have learned in this module about grief as a response to loss and apply this newly gained knowledge to a case study.  You are to look at the relationship between the survivor and the deceased, the ages of both, the mode of death, the symptoms of the bereaved, and the support system for the bereaved.

Discussion Questions:

Prepare for this discussion by reading the Module Seven Notes, the chapter by Kenneth J. Doka, and the article by Christopher Hall.  This activity aligns with module outcomes 1 and 2.

Sara is a fifty-year-old widow who had been estranged from her seventy-five-year-old mother at the time of her mother’s death. Sara and her mother, Joanne, had always had a rough relationship, and Sara was physically abused as a child and emotionally abused as an adult by her mother. Joanne had been showing signs of impulsiveness and paranoid delusions before making the decision to move away from her family on the east coast to the west coast, where she thought the weather was more conducive to a neurological condition from which she was suffering.  A year after Joanne’s move, Joanne asked Sara to come out and visit.  Sara made plans to do so and to arrive on her mother’s birthday.  One morning, Sara got a call from the independent living facility where her mother lived weeks before her planned visit. She was told that her mother was found dead.  It wasn’t until Sara spoke with the medical examiner’s office that she knew for sure that it was from natural causes. Upon returning from the west coast to deal with the details involved with her mother’s death, Sara fell apart.  She was unable to concentrate and had to take a leave of absence from her job. She was astonished by her reaction and thought that she knew what grief was like because she survived her husband. Her friends were surprised by the depth of her grief because they knew that she had been estranged from her mother. However, very few people called or checked in to see how she was doing. She had to seek the help of a counselor where she relived the abuse she had sustained by her mother.  Months into therapy, she was able to go back to work and after a year of intense feelings that ranged from abandonment to anger, as well as physical symptoms, she was able to integrate her loss and was no longer angry at her mother for the years of abuse and for moving so far away. Years after her mother’s death, Sara still experiences pangs of sadness, especially around anniversaries, but she has also considered the positive aspects of her mother’s influence on her life and appreciates some of her mother’s things by wearing her jewelry and displaying her photos.

  • What kind of grief do you think Sara was experiencing and why?
  • Of the grief theories/models reviewed in this module, which would you apply to Sara’s experience. Please explain in detail.


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