Ask a Therapist: Grief and Loss with Richard Kneip

WebMD Live Events Transcript

Everyone deals with grief and loss in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, nor is there an amount of time of grievance that is followed by everyone. This is a personal emotional injury that varies in the amount of time it will take to heal. The loss of a loved one can trigger many emotions such as hopelessness, fear, depression, and anger. Join Richard Kneip, PhD, as he answers your questions about how to deal with grief and loss.

Everyone deals with grief and loss in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, nor is there an amount of time of grievance that is followed by everyone. This is a personal emotional injury that varies in the amount of time it will take to heal. The loss of a loved one can trigger many emotions such as hopelessness, fear, depression, and anger. Join Richard Kneip, PhD, as he answers your questions about how to deal with grief and loss.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome everyone! Today?s guest is Richard Kneip, PhD. He will be answering your questions about grief and loss.

Barb_ie98 asks: Do flashbacks of seeing a baby die in your care ever go away?

Richard Kneip, PhD: Traumatic recollections from seeing another person die are naturally most predominant immediately following the traumatic event. These memories, of course, might be especially pronounced if the deceased is a loved one, and even more so when a child is involved. In general, the length of time required for such traumatic recollections to diminish is directly related to the pace at which the bereaved moves through the grieving process. Such memories may never go away entirely, but very likely will lose some or much of the emotional pain that accompanies such memories early on. Some treatments have been shown to be effective in diminishing the strength of such recollections, but the research is largely inconclusive at this point.

ledfootmama asks: How do you keep going when both parents die in the same year?

Richard Kneip, PhD: Grieving the loss of a parent is naturally one of the most difficult things that most people will go through in their lifetimes. How one grieves the loss of a parent naturally depends on the age of the child when the parent dies. Grieving in children when a parent dies can be quite different than the grieving process of an adult. It depends upon the closeness of the relationship, age of the child, circumstances of the parent's death and so forth. We know that one of the most important elements of successfully grieving is the support of friends and loved ones. Naturally the loss of both parents in a short period of time would compound the grief of the bereaved. In such circumstances, the bereaved would have to rely more heavily on the support of other loved ones, siblings and friends, and of course, would have to attend to their own needs, such as caring for their health, getting back to their normal routine
and coping with the loss.

littlemiss_dangerus_33 asks: I recently terminated a pregnancy after amniocentesis revealed that the child would have a severe form of Down's. I've had difficulty in dealing with the grief, guilt, and loss. Do you have any suggestions?

Richard Kneip, PhD: Your reaction sounds very understandable, and perhaps somewhat more complicated than a grieving situation in which a friend or loved one dies. Naturally, your bond to your unborn baby was every bit as strong as one would expect of any child, born or unborn, and your decision to terminate the pregnancy must have been extremely difficult for you. Any doubts or guilt that you experience may prolong your grieving reaction. It will be extremely important for you to draw upon the support of friends and loved ones, and you must keep in mind that you made your decision after careful deliberation with full consideration of what would be best given the circumstances. If you find yourself feeling that friends or loved ones do not understand your grief or are unable to support you, there are several organizations that offer support groups for parents grieving the loss of a child. One of these, Compassionate Friends, is represented in most states. You may be able to find information about them and similar organizations on the Internet or through your church, physician or local health department.



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