Social Justice Dialogues discusses grief

Everyone feels grief differently and shouldn’t feel ostracized if their feelings don’t reflect psychology, Jessica Lopez told students last week at the California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) Social Justice Dialogue on grief.

“Loss doesn’t have to mean death,” Lopez says, “we experience loss a lot more than we care to realize.” 

Speaking in the  frequently-held event that allows space for a wide range of open conversation, Lopez recognized people dealing with a loss of identity, a role, a relationship or an opportunity.

The host, Nani Pulu, offered lots of opportunities for the attendees to speak and find connections with fellow students. A variety of dialogue spanning from personal grief to how we could better support each other through group traumas such as the pandemic.

 Lopez, spoke on models of grief, stressing that this can be a source of comfort.

Grieving is a natural, healthy way to respond to loss. Lopez comforts those who feel that they are acting abnormally in their own process. “Grief is not something we need to push through to get back to normal, grief is normal.”

The dialogue then moved into two separate modes of grief from two different psychologists as an example of what grief can look like. 

There is the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. These stages of grief originated from working with those with terminal illness. Eventually it was expanded to family and others experiencing the loss.

Another model of grief is psychologist William Worden’s model. His writings outline four tasks that mark as goal posts in navigating grief. They are accepting the reality of loss, experiencing the pain of that loss, adjusting to the environment without what you once had and exploring how you maintain a connection with what you lost. 

Lopez invites grievers to remember that taking care of themselves can look like asking for support. Asking a friend for a meal, for help with an assignment, tasks that allow us to take control of our grief. 

The event closes out with heartfelt words, rambunctious laughter and a pizza party.

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