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.
Check all answers that apply
1. What was your first experience with
death? Who died?
Brother or sister
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?
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
4. What about your own death concerns
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.
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
Losing control of my mind and body
I am not concerned about the
process of dying.
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.
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
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 www.coalitionccc.org.