A very warm welcome!!
You are looking at in the abridged English version of my homepage, at present the full version is only available in German. In addition to information about me and my work you can view the covers of my books with a description in English or download the talk I gave last year at the Conference on Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary society, in the near future you will also be able to download a script on the subject of Bereavement Care.
In the 90s I started organising the first bereavement groups and workshops whilst working in publishing and then as an exhibition curator. After further education and upon commencement of my psychology studies I started, in 1998 to work freelance. In 2000 a period of close cooperation began between me and AGUS e.V. in Bavaria Germany- an association who work with the friends and relations of people who have committed suicide. I developed a range of annually held seminars for AGUS and began to offer regular training for voluntary organisers of AGUS self help groups. In 2002 I was elected as the chairwoman of the TrauerInstitut Deutschland e.V., (Institute for Bereavement) in Bonn, Germany, since then the training of people employed in various sectors amoungst others voluntary hospice workers has become an important specialisation.
In addition to the work in my private bereavement counselling clinic and the work I do for the two associations AGUS e.V. and TID e.V. I work for various institutions as a lecturer.
The practical work of counselling bereaving people is closely connected to the theoretical models which analyse what happens in the process of bereavement and what can help the grieving. Especially close to my heart are the models of "four tasks of mourning" by William Worden, and above all his rephrasing of the forth task in 1991 which urges us to “relocate the deceased”. I especially like Dennis Klass’s concept of "Continuing bonds" to the deceased. I accompany the concept of „letting go“ within a culture of remembrance and complete it with Neimeyers’ idea that during the process of bereavement we redefine our perspective on life, our beliefs and our intrinsic values until the recently experience of loss has found its place in our perception and we have the courage to continue living.
in the following text I have aimed to convey something of what I understand to be bereavement counselling.
Bereavement as a chance to live
Text originally appeared in the publication commemorating the ten-year-jubilium of the hospice in Kerpen, Germany. Especially for Zenzi Faust, March 2006
Bereavement ascends on the most of us like a storm, it brings with it the new, the unexpected. Mourning often means not knowing your self, not understanding the world around you; others are suddenly changed, are different to you. Mourning comes as the stranger, the unknown entity, and the feared- “anything but that”. Mourning: as the dark side of life. Suddenly you are in life’s shadow. And for others you personify the shadow side, and everything that they don’t want for themselves. Mourning as a perpotrator of isolation.
"I’m not part of life" said a client to me "the others are so occupied with unimportant details and I have nothing to do with that any more." Mourning catapults one out of life’s framework, out of hitherto important thoughts and aims. Mourning as the experience of having nothing to hold on to, the floor below your feet sways and all that you were certain of is up to question. Who am I? What is the meaning of it all? Everyone else seems to know.
To mourn means to be lonely, alone in the crowd, the connection is lost to the everyday things that we once took for granted. Mourning as a test ground; for what is possible, what is not yet possible and what will never again be possible. Mourning as extreme sport; taking you to the limits of your own strength and the patience of others.
Mourning as an opportunity?
For me, for my very self, for my future. For experiences never made, for things untried, for dreams waiting to be awoken, for fears which need to be overcome, for affection which, up till now has found no form of expression. For wisdom? For love?
Mourning as a chance for the others who have escaped this time, who don’t mourn so heavily now. An opportunity to take stock, to prepare and to prove oneself; as friend, as fellow person.
Mourning as an opportunity to learn, to understand, mourning as a request for humility. And courage.
Bereavement counselling as an opportunity.
To give life to the dying. To permit vitality into the life with the dying and to accept.
Just to be there. To show repect and courage, offer chances, accompany and counsel the bereaved.
Chris Paul, Dezember 2012