An Unconventional Approach to Meet Needs of Those Experiencing Grief and Loss!!!

Whenever a loss occurs, it's important to see it in the context of life experiences in order to understand the full impact of what has happened...

Needless to say, the nuance of loss, particularly in the context of crisis counseling, is indeed very complex.

Wright (2011) describes loss in very broad and practical terms, “Loss. It’s a simple four-letter word that is one of everyone’s companions throughout life” (p. 61). The author in his uncanny explication elaborates.

No one talks about loss very often. Like a silent conspiracy, we seem to have an unspoken agreement with others not to talk about losses.

Yet, with each and every loss comes the potential for change, growth, new in-sights, understanding and refinement – all positive descriptions and words and hope. However, they are often in the future, and we fail to see that far ahead when we’re in the midst of our grief (p. 61).

Likewise, Floyd (2008) notes, “Some losses are, of course, less important, passing with little notice.

Other losses are enormous, a blow to our functioning, producing a great deal of pain and sadness” (p. 62). In others words, the implications of loss can be extremely far-reaching and highly contextual. Specifically, some common losses include: material, abstract, relationship, intrapsychic, functional, role, systemic, and ambiguous (Wright, 2008).

In this regard, how does the minister best facilitate healing and recovery from loss given this level of complexity and diversity?

First, one must understand that there is strong relationship between grief and loss. Second, the relationship between loss and grief is not linear as once perceived, but rather contextual and idiosyncratic in nature (Helping others recover from loss, Slide 3), third, the recovering process varies considerably, based on individual personalities and situational circumstances related to the specific loss. In short, “the crises of loss impact individuals emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally and spiritually” (Crises of loss, Slide 8).

From a Christian worldview, ministerial healing and recovery should be guided by prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In other words, the minister should focus on “identifying the needs of a person experiencing loss is crucial to their recovery” (Crises of loss, Slide 8). To this end, David Switzer in the book The Minister as Crisis Counselor, identifies four specific needs that a person experiencing loss needs to have met. First, the need for a safe environment; second, the need for affirmation of self-worth; third, the need to reinvest one’s emotions into new experiences or challenges; and fourth, the need to rediscover the full meaning of life (Crises of loss, Slide 10).

In conclusion, facilitating healing and recovery from loss is contextual in nature. If the minister grasp this reality, he or she no longer see recovery as a one-size-fits- all model, but rather tailors pastoral care according to individual needs.

In essence, “ministers must tailor pastoral care to the particular experience, needs, goals, and multiple contexts (e.g., personal, developmental, social, familial, cultural) of individuals. Instead of making universal assumptions, ministers should evaluate the appropriateness of grief work in light of the uniqueness of the griever” (Helping others recover from loss, Slide 12).


Crises of loss. (2012). Retrieved November 14, 2012, from (Source)

Floyd, S. (2008). Crisis counseling: A guide for pastors and professionals. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications.

Helping others recover from loss. (2012). Retrieved November 14, 2012, from (Source)

Wright, H. N. (2011). The complete guide to crisis & trauma counseling: What to do and say when it matters most. Ventura: Regal.