Personal Grief and Loss Awareness Activity

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Personal Grief and Loss Awareness Activity

As a result of experiences with loss and grief, each of us develops  our own unique style of dealing with these issues. Understanding your  attitudes, values, assumptions, beliefs, reactions, and unfinished  business (if any) is an important task of self-awareness. The goal of  this assignment is to facilitate your reflection about how these issues  present themselves and relate to your personal coping style as well as  your interactions with others coping with loss and grief.

Part 1 – Loss Timeline: Construct a time line which represents the  loss events in your life, including non-death related losses such as  loss of dreams, loss of job, loss of home, etc. You can begin by making a  list of items, starting with your earliest memory and working through  to the current day. Some people prefer a line with bullet points along  the way, while others will use a chart. You can decide the way you’d  like to represent your time line – be as creative as you would like!

Part 2 – Personal Death Awareness: Complete the Personal Reflection handout included as an attachment. 

Part 3 – Reflection: Using the information you’ve identified in your  loss history and the Personal Reflection handout, write a reflection  summary  on the impact of these events upon the  following:

•  Your interest in issues of grief and loss as well as personal goals for this course;

•  Your personal style of dealing with loss i.e. how has your  upbringing, culture, religion, ethnicity influenced your coping style  And how do you cope with issues of death and non-death loss in your  life?

•  Your comfort levels in dealing with different issues of grief, and  different kinds of loss with others i.e. are there specific kinds of  losses that you feel will be particularly challenging to work with?; do  you have experience with specific groups of people or specific illness  or events that have proven to be difficult in the past?; do you have any  value-oriented or ethical conflicts with certain issues, people,  events?

•  Your thoughts on stages of grief and types of losses individuals and their families may experience. 

Personal Reflection

Check all answers that apply

1. What was your first experience with

death? Who died?

 Grandparent/great-grandparent

 Parent

 Brother or sister

 A child

 Other family member

 Friend or acquaintance

 Stranger or a public figure

 Animal or pet

2. When you were a child, how was death

or dying talked about in your family?

 Openly

 With some sense of discomfort

 As though it were a taboo subject

 Do not recall any discussion

3. What does death mean to you?

 The end; the final process of life

 The beginning of a life after death; a

transition, a new beginning

 A kind of endless sleep; rest and


 End of this life, but survival of the


 Other (specify):


4. What about your own death concerns

you most?

 I could no longer have any


 I am afraid of what might happen to

my body after death.

 I am uncertain about what might

happen to me if there is a life after


 I could no longer provide for my


 It would cause grief to my family and


 There would be some things left


 I have no concerns about my death.

 Other (specify):


5. What about the process of dying

concerns you most?

 It might be long and painful

 Being a financial burden to my family

 Causing my family to suffer

 Being dependent on others to care

for me

 Losing control of my mind and body

 I am not concerned about the

process of dying.

 Other (specify):


6. How large a role has spirituality or

religion played in your attitude toward


 A very significant role

 Influential, but not a major role

 A relatively minor role

 No role at all

7. If you were told that you had a limited

time to live, how would you want to

spend the time you had remaining?

 I would pursue personal pleasures

(travel, adventure, chocolate).

 I would prefer being alone: reading,

contemplation or praying.

 I would like to focus on loved ones.

 I would shift from my own needs to a

concern for others (family, friends).

 I would try to tie up loose ends.

 I would try to do one important thing.

 I would make few changes.

 Other (specify):


8. If or when you are married or have a

long-term partner, would you prefer to

outlive your spouse/partner?

 Yes, I would prefer to die second

and outlive my spouse/partner.

 No, I would rather die first and have

my spouse/partner outlive me.

 It doesn’t matter to me.

 This question doesn’t apply to me.

9. If you had a choice, what kind of death

would you prefer?

 Sudden, unexpected death

 Quiet, dignified death

 Death in the line of duty

 Death after a great achievement

 There is no “appropriate” kind of


 Other (specify):


10. What is one thing you would want to

say to someone special before you die?





The Center for Healthcare Decisions developed this questionnaire, based in part on

Edwin Schneidman’s “You and Death: An Exercise.”

For more information, contact the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California at

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