The way grief memory imprints on the human brain is important because it helps keep the moment vivid and remembered for a long period. While during acute grieving this poses issues for healing, in the long term, it keeps the precious memories of the loved one intact far stronger. No-one wishes to lose the memory of a loved one. In fact, many go to lengthy processes to keep the memory alive. Keeping a certain object, clothing, or journaling are all ways individuals try to keep the memory strong. Fortunately the brain keeps it strong as well.
The Hippocampus and the Amygdala play a key role in keeping the emotion imprinted. The Amygdala processes emotion to the Hippocampus sometimes in intense ways that even bypass longer cognitive thought in a more direct route. The Hippocampus imprints these types of emotional images and for long term. The Cortex also imprints these images. Unfortunately, sometimes trauma and intense grief can cause PTSD where these images are fragmented and never properly processed. These are not the types of long term grief memories we want.
The video below discusses how grief and memory interact with other. Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.
Humanity in the fallen world has numerous needs to maintain existence. Among the most basic needs are food and water. Instinctively within human nature is a drive for to satisfy hunger and thirst, as well as drives to reproduce. These are natural evolutionary forces that push the human person to exist and perpetuate the species. In Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Maslow lists basic needs of existence as the base of all needs. Following these needs are needs of safety and shelter. Beyond that is a more complex social need of belonging and love. Following this basic social need, is a mental need to perform and succeed in certain areas and talents that help manifest self esteem. Still even beyond those accomplishments, there needs to be a self actualization of self that recognizes one has met one’s fullest potential. Finally, after all these physical, social and mental accomplishments, one needs to find an existential or spiritual idea of meaning and tie that meaning into one’s life (Myers & Dewall, 2019, p. 351). Hence humanity has many needs to find completeness .
When these basic needs are denied or removed, one can experience a sense of loss. Human loss is more than merely losing a loved one but is an assortment of losses that range from the everyday minor issues to other losses that include home, shelter, job, career, relationships, or lack of success. Some of these loses are losses related to physical events, while other losses are more abstract, ambiguous or anticipated (Kastenbaum & Moreman. 2018, p. 374-375).
Attachment is key to any type of loss. John Bowlby observed that the greater the attachment to something, the greater the loss reaction (Kastenbaum & Moreman, 2018, p. 378). Hence grief is a simple formula of losing a vital attachment and learning to adjust without it. The problem is the adjustment. Especially when one considers the core of human needs includes love, being loved and belonging. When someone is ripped away from another, these needs are now unfulfilled and lead to an adjustment period referred to as the bereavement period. Ironically, there is no true period of grieving but a life long reaction to adjustment of the absence of that love. Some proceed through the adjustment period without pathology, while others are able to better cope.
Kubler Ross gave various stages to the adjustment of loss. Denial, anger, sadness, negotiating and acceptance became the 5 classic steps to grieving ( Kastenbaum & Moreman. 2018, p. 380). However, while these emotions clearly are part of the grieving process, one cannot neatly place grief into stages. Grief instead is messy. Grief oscillates from extremes and reverts back and forth between different emotions. (Bonano, G. 2019, p.40). Ultimately, the person must perform the needed grief work to adjust to the new status. The person must search for meaning in the loss (Wolfelt, A.
This is why Robert Neimeyer’s work on Meaning Reconstruction is so key to overall healing. Neimeyer looks to connect past, present and future, pre-loss and post-loss into one story of a person’s life. The loss must be incorporated into the full narrative of the human person (Worden, J. 2009, p. 5-6). This incorporates the loss more fully into the person’s existence and finds meaning in the loss itself. It also helps the individual realize that while the loss and absence of love physically exists, the continued bond in memory and in life itself still exists. The love that was shared is a part of one’s life and continues to shape oneself.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs clearly illustrates the necessity of love, being loved and belonging, but when these things are torn away through loss, a serious grief reaction occurs and individuals need to understand how to cope and incorporate loss into life.
Motivation to Find the Beloved
In psychological studies, the person is driven by motivation. Motivation is defined as “need or desire that energizes and directs behavior” (Myers & Dewall. 2019, p. 349). In addition to genetic and evolutionary drives, one is also driven to certain goods via an arousal of the psychological state that looks to decrease that desire through obtaining or fulfilling it. This is referred to as Drive-Reduction Theory (Myers and Dewall. 2019, p. 349).
The need and drive finding the beloved after loss is definitely a natural and evolutionary urge. The process of bereavement helps the individual react and adjust through a series of emotions to understand the loss itself. This can be difficult at first to rationally understand, since emotionally charged events are first deciphered through Amygdala. This short road is far more emotional and reactionary to an initial loss (Myers and Dewall. 2019, p. 370). Charged emotions respond to this drive to find the lost or deceased person. This is why denial is so common when a horrible event occurs.
Emotion plays a large role in one’s appetites and how one is pushed towards or pulled away from an object. According to Myers and Dewall, emotion itself is the response of the whole organism from physiological arousal, expressive behaviors and conscious experience (2019, p. 369). Within the list of emotions, many scientists differ what are the core base emotions, but most concede that anger, fear, disgust, sadness and happiness are the basic human emotions (Myers and Dewall. 2019, p.369). Others also include interest, shame, guilt, as well as pride and love (Myers and Dewall. 2019, p. 369).
Obvious sadness is a key emotion related to loss. The desire to return to a normal state of existence and the inability to do so frustrates the will and the absence of the beloved causes intense sadness. Sadness as an emotion helps readjust but it also is beneficial as a social key in illustrating to others a sign of distress. Due to various cues of facial expressions one can infer another person is struggling (Bonano, G. 2019, p. 31). So while the bereaved is motivated internally and naturally to find the deceased, the function of sadness helps the person find adjustment and understanding overtime of the loss.
The drive to continue the bond with the deceased is not pathological, as past Freudian views pointed out ( Kastenbaum & Moreman. 2018, p. 379). Instead it healthy to continue the bond through spiritual practice or memorialization. Successful grieving in fact involves this continuation of the bond (Bonano, G. (2019, p. 140). However, there are limits to healthy continuation of the bond and pathological. Healthy coping will continue the bond in a non maladaptive way that accepts the loss and permits everyday existence but unhealthy bonding can be illustrated in cases such as clinging to possessions of the deceased (Bonano, G. 2019, p. 141). This clinging is far different than keeping a few objects, but this pathological reaction involves extreme hoarding of past possessions and refusal to move forward. In fact, in some cases, the room is left perfectly as was prior to the death (Bonano, G. 2019. p.140).
Hence one can understand the extreme motivational drive and need to maintain a bond with the deceased even after the death has occurred. It is a healthy drive but one that needs moderated.
Psychological needs to love, be loved, belong and maintain those bonds is a key drive within the human person. When these things are frustrated, the drive continues to push forward in the process of bereavement. Overtime, this drive adjusts but it takes time to adjust to loss.
Please also review AIHCP’s Grief Counseling Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals. The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Grief Counseling.
“Exploring Psychology” 11th Edition. Myers, D & Dewall, N. (2019). Worth Publishers: Macmillan Learning, NY
“Other Side of Sadness”. Bonano, G. (2019). Basic Books, NY.
“Death, Society and Human Experience” 12th Edition. Kastenbaum, R. & Moreman, C. (2018). Routledge, NY and London.
“Understanding Your Grief” 2nd Edition. Wolfelt, A. (2021). Companion, Fort Collins, CO.
“Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy”. 4th Edition. Worden, J. (2009). Springer Publishing Company, NY
“Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs”. Mcleod, S. (2023). Simply Psychology. Access here
“The Value of Sadness”. Firestone, L. (2015). Psychology Today. Access here
“What is Attachment Theory? Bowlby’s 4 Stages Explained”. Ackerman, C. (2018). PositivePsychology.com. Access here
“16 Tips for Continuing Bonds with People We’ve Lost”. Williams, L. (2014). What’s Your Grief? Access here
Hypnosis. Legal case management. Grief counseling. Stress management. Meditation. Spiritual counseling. There are many different areas of specialization when it comes to the vast realms of the healthcare industry.
Some allied health professional jobs require specific certification and others do not. However, if you happen to work in one of those positions that do not require specialized certification, do you really need it?
You are the only one who can make that decision for your career, but we are going to present you seven reasons why healthcare clinicians should achieve certification.
1. Gain advanced knowledge and skills in a healthcare sub-specialty
Physicians, nurses, and other allied healthcare professionals often get into the field because they have a passion or interest in a certain field of healthcare. Perhaps you are a nurse who has always been interested in the area of spirituality. Even if you are not currently practicing as a nurse in this field, you can increase your knowledge and skills to learn more just for curiosity’s sake, or to set yourself up for an opportunity to work in that specialty in the future.
2. Healthcare employers require certification more frequently
Healthcare facilities’, hospitals’, and other companies’ policies about continuing education requirements are constantly evolving. Some employers who never required a certification for their employees in the past have changed their practices and now make certification mandatory for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, there can also be laws made at the state level meant to keep the public safe that require allied health professionals to obtain and hold certain credentials.
3. Advance or expand your healthcare practice
Maybe you are a physician who wants to expand your current general practice roster of patients. Perhaps you want to offer specialized services to a certain segment of the population. Certification opens up doors as a healthcare provider to expand your practice and services to meet a wider range of patients and treat specific conditions and ailments.
4. Gain a competitive edge and increase your marketability
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons healthcare professionals obtain a certification is to increase their employability and gain a competitive edge in the industry. Having the certification itself does not guarantee job placement, however it can definitely give you an advantage when you apply for a job in the medical industry. Even if the particular job you are applying for does not require certification, having one related to the healthcare sub-specialty, i.e. intensive care unit (ICU), geriatrics, etc., shows your dedication and demonstrates your level of expertise.
5. Be viewed as a credentialed expert in your practice specialty
Certification in a certain area exerts yourself as an expert in the field. When you are nationally-recognized for the attainment of knowledge and skills by meeting specific predetermined criteria, it demonstrates your competency as an allied healthcare professional. This recognition may help you personally or professionally, it just depends on whether it means something to you to be viewed as an expert, or if you plan on taking that position to advance your healthcare career. It can also be a combination of both. You might also use this recognition to become a part of a professional group or network with other certified healthcare specialists that practice in your specialty.
6. Show employers you stay up-to-date
By its intrinsic nature, the medical field is an industry that is constantly changing. In fact, all of the changes that have been ushered in since the beginning of this pandemic are testament to this very fact. In order to stay on your toes, it’s important to keep up with all the changes the best you possibly can. Healthcare certification is the perfect way to do just that. Most certifications not only require the base of knowledge and skills to obtain the credential, but they also include a certain number of continuing education hours annually in order to renew it. This demonstrates to employers that you are a healthcare professional who cares about continuing education and keeping up with the best practices in the industry. If you were the employer, would you not prefer to hire someone who has proven expertise in the field?
7. It speaks to who you are as a clinician
Certification in healthcare is so much more than a piece of paper. It demonstrates who you are as a person and an allied healthcare professional. It shows that you are committed to the practice, your career, and to providing the very best patient care possible. Employers look for those qualities when they are considering hiring anyone in the healthcare industry.
Want to learn more about healthcare certification?
The American Institute of Healthcare Professionals is committed to providing opportunities for clinicians to expand their skills and knowledge base to advance their career in healthcare. You can learn more about each of the different types of certifications they provide by clicking on one of the links below.
A lot of literature about grief is overwhelmingly death orientated. This is a good thing in that death is a universal experience but it is not an everyday thing. True, the loss of a loved one permeates one’s daily life long after the event, but the actual event is singular and for the more fortunate, not nearly as regular. The reality is most people go to counseling for relationship loss. Grief counselors deal with many people who are devastated by divorce, a cheating spouse, a broken engagement, or the sudden change of not having that person to call, hold, or spend time with. These aspects are very common to the human experience. With proper guidance, the wounds become scars and help one grow emotionally and sometimes spiritually.
The loneliness and the un-needed anxiety people experience in finding a mate can be stressful enough for some, but when one truly believes they found the one, only to be shocked that everything was an illusion can be a horrifying change. Changes in life style from the tiniest schedule can shake the foundation of that person’s life. Even the smallest scent or image can bring a tidal wave of emotional imagery. Unfortunately there are no short cuts in this adaptation period. As so many grief specialists emphasize, one must do their “grief work”. They must experience the change the emotional pain that accompanies it. Of course, as death, there is the acceptance stage, the emotional stage of anger and mourning, and the final adaptation to the new situation. A good grief counselor will guide the broken person through these phases and encourage emotional release in the healing process. Only after these initial steps, can the person utilize new meaning concepts to a new reality and properly place the lost relationship in its proper perspective of his or her life story. The question arises why does this adaptation take so long for some people? It all varies based upon the level of attachment. Attachment theory is a theory that was used in great depth with widows or widowers in their loss of a spouse. The same can be applied to broken relationships that do not involve death, but separation. The attachment will determine the length of the adaptation to the person. So, if someone was in a relationship for many years and suddenly the relationship ceased, one should expect a greater withdrawal and more intense and lengthy adaptation period. The opposite can be said for a short two month affair where there is little attachment and hence less adaptation. As a grief counselor, it is important not to only deal with death but also every day pains of the heart. Proper understanding of attachment can help one assess the situation and lay a ground work for eventually adaptation and assimilation of the past into the person’s present. One can never give a time frame for recovery, but with a special guidance, a grief counselor can help a person understand the phases and steps and help them take the necessary steps for a happy future with someone else. You can learn more about grief counseling, including available grief counseling courses and online study and training programs by doing an internet search for the American Academy of Grief Counseling. Mark Moran, MA, GC-C, SCC-C
Everyone experiences grief differently, but there are several stages of the grieving process that are fairly universal.
Shock and Denial.
This phase often manifests itself in a sort of numbness, a feeling of disbelief and a sense of helplessness.
Pain and Guilt.
As the shock abates, it is often replaced with feelings of longing for the one we have lost. It is standard at this stage to experience guilt and remorse about things we may have done or not done, said or not said, to that person. Overwhelming emotional pain is difficult to deal with, and should not be stifled.
A common question those in grief ask is ‘Why?’ Why Him/Her? Why us? Why me? Finding the answer to this question causes frustration and anger. It is common at this stage to try to find something or someone to blame, or take your frustration out on.
You may experience a period of introversion. This stage of the process may leave you feeling low, and you may find you spend a lot of time reflecting on the experiences you had with your loved one. Those close to you will often try to encourage you not to wallow in your grief. However, this is an important part of the process. It allows you to work through your feelings about the one you have lost, as well as reflect on your time together. At this point that you can start to look toward the future, and might even see some hope on the horizon. The worst is over. Often, people in this stage of the process start to think about how they might best commemorate and celebrate the life of the person they have lost. Deciding on an online memorial can be a great way to honour your loved ones. It allows you to have a permanent reminder of them which everyone can have access to, be involved in creating and even add to.
Hope for the Future.
The sense of hopelessness and despair you felt will start to lessen. You can now begin adjusting to life without the person you have lost.
Readjustment and Acceptance.
You will eventually begin to feel that you can settle in to new routines, and maybe even start making plans for your future. Life will seem less overwhelming. If you are experiencing prolonged grief, you may want to seek out the consult of a grief counselor. They can be very helpful in assisting you through the grief process or referring you for more intense treatment if need be.
Thank you for visiting our AIHCP web blog. This category of the blog focuses on the specialty practice of Pet Loss Grief Support. Our blog provides our visitors and professional members and students an ever expanding platform for related articles, information, discussions, event announcements and much more. We invite your participation by posting comments, information, sharing and authoring for our blog. Please visit us often and be sure to book mark us!
Thank you for visiting our AIHCP web blog. This category of the blog focuses on the specialty practice of Pastoral Thanatology. Our blog provides our visitors and professional members and students an ever expanding platform for related articles, information, discussions, event announcements and much more. We invite your participation by posting comments, information, sharing and authoring for our blog. Please visit us often and be sure to book mark us!