The Six R’s of Mourning Grief


Grief. Photo courtesy of eflon(CC Attribution)

What Is Grief?

This instructional presentation highlights the parallels between grief and addiction. Jeff Georgi provides insight and resources for practitioners and relatives in dealing with the potential interplay between the two. Grief is described as a process of experiencing any perceived loss and is only the beginning of the often neglected mourning process, which continues beyond the initial perception of the loss in a non-linear fashion that will vary person-to-person based on the unique biological, psychological, social, spiritual and experiential features of the mourning context. 

The Six R’s of Grief

The “six R” model of the mourning process (recognition, reaction, recollection, relinquishment, readjustment, re-investment) describes the basic phases of mourning. It is important to note that these phases are cyclical and may be punctuated by sudden temporary upsurges of grief (STUG). Mourning complications include substance abuse, depression, and chronic anger, any of which can arise from disruptions or failures in any of the “six R” phases. This information is useful to anyone who is treating or interacting with those in mourning, especially younger populations whose on-going brain development makes them particularly susceptible to the mourning complications.

Grief’s Role In Addiction 

Similar to addiction, grief is a biological, psychological, social and spiritual malady. Traumatic experiences such as failure of attachment, loss of youth, broken relationships or a death of a child can make individuals feel a loss of love. Some turn to drugs and alcohol, where they find the love and solace that cures their grief. Addiction, however, is only a temporary solution that eventually leaves the addict in a more grievous state. Many addicts are usually stuck in a complicated phase of mourning. Getting sober itself is a form of grief. Addicts lose their best friends and coping mechanisms when they get sober. We work with our students to overcome their addictions and eventually deal with some of the deeper grief they may be experiencing. 

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