Social Work Helper


Grief and Grieving

Social Work Helper 2012/11/14

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

This is another area that I find is lacking as a resource, especially for seniors/older adults-Grief Groups. If you think about it, which segment of the population is most likely to need this? If you guessed seniors, I believe you would be correct.

A comment I hear often is. “I have another funeral to go to.” “Too many of my friends are dying.” I am sure you have heard these or similar comments as well.

As I work with seniors this is an area of interest for me particularly as my clients are older as in 80+ for the most part.

If a client wants to discuss this topic with me, I allow it. This is where they are at. But it is important to remember that as a helping professional you have to be open to discussing grief, comfortable with it and to have reviewed the literature as well as to perhaps familiarize yourself with the stages of grief. 

One of my favorite authors on this topic is Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

Her many years of research focuses on 5 Stages of Grief:

1- Denial

2- Anger

3- Bargaining

4- Depression

5- Acceptance


Everyone grieves differently, for different lengths of time and will go through the stages at a different pace.

Further research on the web brings up the 7 Stages of Grief:

1- Shock and Denial

2- Pain and Guilt

3- Anger and Bargaining

4- Depression, Reflection and Loneliness

5- The Upward Turn where one is starting to adjust to the changes

6- Reconstruction and Working Through it

7- Acceptance and Hope


Both models are good and I am sure accurately describe the process one who is grieving goes through.

As helping professionals we must be comfortable with this issue in order to offer the best assistance to our clients and like end-of-life issues-perhaps to reflect and find out where we ourselves are at.

I would like to share a poem which I feel could assist with grief.

“Grief is like a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.

The lessons that come from grief come from its unexpected moves, from its shifting view of what has gone before and what is yet to come.” – C.S. Lewis

Victoria Brewster is a Canadian MSW Professionals who specializes in Health Care and Aging issues. You can contact her at, follow on Twitter: @97socialworker, or view her LinkedIn profile at Also you can view her blog at

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