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The 6 T’s of Grief Recovery
By Cheryline Lawson
There are 6 fundamentals of grief recovery, which are very important to the grieving process. Most people try to avoid them not knowing that they're delaying their healing & advancement to the future.

Let us discuss them & evaluate your situation if you're grieving to see if you are or can implement any of these 6 criteria to recovering from your grief.

e all need time to grieve, but how long it takes depends on the individual. No one can accurately predict how long it will take for grief healing. Your friends & family may anticipate & expect a certain time frame.
You may be tempted to set the same expectation that they have for you, but if you try to please others, then your grieving will become unresolved & you'll find yourself confused & unable to move on.
You'll feel anger, guilt or depression if you aren't able to finish the grieving process. Take time to grieve for your loved one until you're comfortable.

Tears are part of the healing process so do allow yourself to cry as much as you want. Let the tears flow & cleanse yourself of all the emotional burden that come with grief.
If you're unable to cry in public, find a safe place like your home or a support outreach center or in your car. Call someone on the phone that'll listen to your pain & validate your tears.
It's so amazing the amount of tears that we utilize during grief. We can cry for simple things, so be sure to drink more water because tears tend to dehydrate you.

I can't say this enough. Talk as much as you can about your memories of your loved one; especially the good ones. Seek out the people who'll listen to you & understand your grief.
A grief support group is a good place to start. Talking helps you to realize the impact & the reality of their death & to accept the fact of the finality of their death. Most people are very uneasy to mention your loved one, but be sure to make it known that you want to talk about your loved one because this is what will help you the most.

You'll miss the hugs, touches, kisses & affection of your loved one. You'll build a wall around you to keep out other people who want to show you affection. You may find hugging to be repulsive & feel guilt for having someone show you kindness thru a hug or a kiss on the cheek.
Let that barrier down. Accept the kindness that others want to share with you. Allow yourself to be pampered. Don’t be on the defensive. You deserve to be hugged & comforted after going thru such a loss.
If you're all alone without any family, make arrangements with a friend to give you a "healing hug" if you look or feel like you need it. Bereaved children need lots of hugs to reassure them that they're still loved.

Trust yourself to know that you will recover from your grief. You may begin to question your trust in God & your spirituality. You'll feel anger at God. You're in a stage of rediscovering yourself & how you will handle the future. You don’t have to be alone in the decisions that you have to make, but if you're alone, do trust your instincts & ask for help when you don’t know what to do.

Everyone grieves in different ways. Grieving is hard work. It's like toiling. It takes lots of energy from you. You'll feel fatigue, struggle, difficulty & not motivated to continue with life. You'll need to eat healthy, exercise & take good care of your own well-being.
Recognize that grief recovery will take effort on your part, but embracing support can help you not to feel like you're toiling so hard.

Make sure you administer all or some of the 6 T’s of grief recovery to make your life easier & your healing faster to gain a life of peace & renewal.


Grief Recovery Ideas
By Cheryline Lawson
Recovering from grief has no set order or method. It all depends on the individual person, what type of grief (how their loved one died), their social & cultural background & their emotional stability at the time of the death of their loved one.

Here are 20 practical ideas of recovery that'll help in some way to get you past some of the pain & on your way to recovery.
1. Talk with as many people as you feel comfortable talking to especially with someone who is a good listener & has empathy to your situation.

2. Take a walk each day & appreciate the natural things around you & your surroundings. Somehow the outdoors provides a sense of peace & tranquility.
3. If you feel up to it, make a visit to your loved one’s graveside. Talk to the grave, even though they won’t be able to hear you, but it's therapeutic. Cry if you want to & don’t feel guilty about anything.
4. Create a scrapbook that will keep the memories alive of your loved one. Share it with those who care about your loss. Cut out pictures & anything that reminds you of them. Let each picture tell a story.

5. Revisit your dreams & goals before your loved one passed away. This will reveal your thoughts & fears & help you to see what changes need to be made for your future.

6. Let others know how you want to be approached. I found that people are very uncomfortable to be around someone who has lost a loved one & they don’t know what to say. If you need them to leave you alone, say so in a loving way. If you need more affection, let them know. There's no way that people will be able to read your mind unless you say so.
7. Think about the 'Serenity Prayer' -- "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know one from the other." This is actually an ancient German prayer that makes a lot of sense.
8. Keep the persons memory alive by still setting their place at the table or other rituals that you remember. Do this for a short time until you come to an acceptance of your loss.
9. Plan to do at least one thing each day. It doesn’t have to anything difficult. You'll experience low energy at this time & it's important to keep your energy up.
10. Keep a journal & write your feelings down. This is also a therapeutic exercise that can bring some peace of mind. You can do this every day or for however long that you want. Write whatever you feel. Just let your feelings pour out on paper & read it over to yourself.
11. Get as much rest as you can. Going thru the grieving process is hard on the body & the mind. Take naps & relax as much as you like. It'll replenish your energy also.
12. Write a letter to your loved one. Let them know how you feel about their absence. Tell them all the things you wished you'd said while they were alive. Let them know how much you miss them & what's been going on since they've been gone.
13. Consider joining a local support group if such is available in your area & if the grief gets too much, seek professional help. The support group will provide a place of familiarity with people who are going thru the same thing you are.
14. If you live alone, consider getting a pet, but having someone in your home helps to take away the silence. Be sure you have time to take care of the pet & also be sure you're ready for company.
15. Find something to do that passes the time; a hobby that you like or doing volunteer work for a worthy cause.
16. Relieve yourself from the grief by attending a movie or going to dinner or a comedy club. Laughing is good medicine for the soul. Your loved one would have wanted you to be happy.
17. Don’t try to be self-reliant. Reach out to others who are willing to assist you in any way. Form neighborly relationships especially if you live by yourself.
18. Keep away from people who make it difficult for you to grieve or think that it's time for you to stop grieving. You don’t need to be around people who aren't understanding of your grief.
19. Listen to soothing music. It helps to soother the soul & relaxes the body & the mind.
20. Lastly, make sure you read all the good books you can about coping with grief. They will help you to understand the journey of your grief & the different emotions that are quite normal for you to experience. It'll also get thru some of your bad days.

Grieving is never an easy experience, but having good support can lead you to a place of healing & realization that your pain is real. Grief recovery is attainable if you have the right people around you, the tools that you need & the confirmation that your grieving is normal & practical ways to deal with the grief.


Loss & Grief - Myths & Realities

Myths & Realities about the Nature of Grief

In Western society we're socialized to regard certain beliefs & attitudes about what makes up a normal grief response, many of which are inaccurate & untrue.

These common misconceptions & myths then become part of our cultural beliefs of the grieving process. We're raised with incorrect information that ultimately leads to unrealistic expectations of those going thru the grief process.

We expect people to "Get over it" "Let it go" & "Move on" especially if the grieving process last too long, which is often regarded as only a few weeks.

I remember being struck by how quickly we, as a nation, were expected to "move on" following the devastating events of September 11, 2001.

After 2 weeks of public mourning (outward expression of grief), the flags were returned to full mast, a signal by the White House that it was time to move on.

Misconceptions & Myths
ften when dealing with someone who is grieving we feel a need to change how that person is feeling about grief.

In an awkward attempt to make the grieving person feel better people turn to clichés such as:

  • "You must be strong."
  • "You have to get on with your life." 
  • "It's good that he didn't have to suffer."

which may cause additional distress.

Western society also promotes the misconception that it's inappropriate to show any kind of grief emotions anywhere else but the funeral.

There's also the implicit expectation that after 2 weeks one should be "over it." People in the workforce are expected to return to work after their 2 weeks of bereavement leave with their grief still fresh & get back to normal.

Recovery from the loss or the death should definitely be completed within 6 months, supporting the common myth about grief that it actually ends.

These misconceptions about the grieving process can make the process more difficult & more painful for those going thru it. Being around people who believe & perpetuate the myths & misconceptions can make it more difficult for those who are grieving; this misinformation may actually hinder the recovery process by not allowing the grieving person to be supported by understanding family & friends as the person goes thru the process in his or her own way & at his or her own pace.


Dispelling the Misconceptions & Myths thru Education

Education is one of the best ways of dispelling the misconceptions & myths about grief. Thru education the public & professionals become more knowledgeable & aware that grief is a normal response to loss.

People will also have a better understanding of what's part of a normal grief response. Dispelling the myths will help those grieving a loss by raising awareness & making it easier for them to go thru the process.

Encouraging Time to Assimilate the Loss
ince these myths & misconceptions are so pervasive in our popular culture it's no wonder that a grieving person may feel abnormal or that they're doing it wrong if his or her experience last more than a few weeks.

The grieving person may feel that he or she is "going crazy" if they experience intense emotions or physical symptoms along with their grief. We should be encouraging those who are grieving to find the resources needed to assimilate the loss into a life forever changed in their own way & in their own time.

The remaining part of this article includes many of the common myths about the nature, the timing, the emotions & symptoms of grief & ways of coping with grief & the realities about the grieving process.

Identifying Myths & Revealing Realities about the Nature of Grief

Myth: All losses are the same.
Reality: Each person's experience of loss is unique.

Myth: People grieve in the same manner.
Reality: There is no "perfect," "right," "correct" or "standard" way to grieve a loss.

Myth: Grief occurs in an orderly & predictable manner.
Reality: Grief is a chaotic process, better described as a roller coaster ride with periods of highs & periods of lows.

Myth: Only family members grieve a loss.
Reality: Anyone attached to the loss may grieve.

Myth: People should leave their grieving at home.
Reality: We can't control where we grieve.

Myth: We only grieve deaths.
Reality: We grieve *all* losses.


Molly Fumia's quote describes just how universal the grief response is.

Grief is the most patient & persistent of all of life's companions. It's an ancient, universal power that links all human beings together.

More on the Reality of Loss
Loss is a common experience that can be encountered many times during a lifetime; it doesn't discriminate for age, race, sex, education, economic status, religion, or nationality. Unrecognized, unprocessed & untreated the grief response can result in:

  • personal anguish
  • multiple complaints
  • functional impairment
  • strained relationships
  • clinical depression 
  • a risk of suicide

A person who is grieving should be encouraged to draw upon or discover their internal source of strength & find healthy ways of coping with the loss. For many recognizing that others have lived thru loss & survived often helps in beginning to realize that they too can survive their own loss.

It's important to recognize that:

Grief is a powerful, universal feeling, but it is survivable.

The previous section explored various myths & realities about the nature of grief. This section looks at the timing of loss & grief.

Identifying Myths & Revealing Realities on the Timing of Loss & Grief

Myth: A grieving person should be over their grief after 2 weeks.
Reality: There is no definite timeline for grief; it may take weeks, months, years or a lifetime to process a loss. How long depends on the person, the situation & the type of loss.

Myth: The grieving person should definitely be "over it" within 2 months.
Reality: There's no definite timeline for grief.

Myth: Grief declines over time in a steadily decreasing fashion.
Reality: Grief is more like a roller coaster ride with up times & down times.

Myth: Once over a loss, the grief is never experienced again.
Reality: A place, a smell, a song, or a special date may trigger the old memories.

Grief may be experienced again.

Myth: Grief ends after the funeral.
Reality: Many people believe that life should return to normal after the funeral service. However, this may be the start of the grieving process as the shock & numbness give way to the reality of the loss.

Myth: Grief eventually ends.
Reality: In time most people learn to live with the loss


More on the Timing of Grief

Noted psychiatrist and death and dying expert Elisabeth Kübler-Ross reminds us that mourning doesn't end in two months, six months or even a year, instead:

    Mourning can go on for years and years.
    It doesn't end after a year, that's a false fantasy.
    It usually ends when people realize that they can live again,
    that they can concentrate their energies on their lives as a whole, and not on their hurt, and guilt and pain.

One of the common myths about grief is that it eventually ends. In reality, as professor, author and thanatology expert Dr. Kenneth Doka notes:

    We do not get over grief.
    But over time, we do learn to live with the loss.
    We learn to live a different life
    ...with our loss.

Grieving people must recognize that they may never "get over" their grief or certain major losses such as the diagnosis of a terminal illness or the ultimate loss of a child, spouse or loved one to death. With time the loss, the intense, initial, painful emotions lessen to a level that allows the grieving person to function.

The grief is no longer a daily all-consuming emotion. In time the grieving person learns how to cope with the loss and the grief, integrate the loss into his/her life, adapt to a life forever changed by the loss and keep living.

The previous sections have explored various myths and realities about the nature of grief and the timing of grief. In this section the emotions of grief are considered followed by physical symptoms of grief.

Identifying Myths & Revealing Realities about the Emotions of Grief

Myth: Bereaved people just need to express their feelings and to resolve their grief.
Reality: Grief is manifested physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially and intellectually.

Myth: Grief is just an emotional reaction.
Reality: Grief is a normal response to an abnormal event.

Myth: The intensity of the grief expressed indicates how much you loved a person.
Reality: There are different ways of expressing a person's grief; some do it quietly, some loudly.

Myth: Expressing intense feelings of sorrow, anger, or hopelessness means one is losing control.
Reality: Expressing, talking or writing about intense feelings can be helpful.


More on the Emotions of Grief
When a person is faced with a loss, crisis or life-changing event he/she is suddenly thrust into a new world that is unfamiliar & at times frightening.

It's a world of intense, unsettling at at times conflicting feelings of loss, anger, depression, loneliness, fear, frustration & desperation.

Dr. Melba Colgrove wrote about the healing of emotional injuries in her book, How to Survive the Loss of a Love:

    When an emotional injury takes place, the body begins a process as natural as the healing of a physical wound.
    Let the process happen.
    Trust that nature will do the healing.
    Know that the pain will pass, & when it passes,
    You will be stronger, happier, more sensitive & aware.

Identifying Myths & Revealing Realities about the Physical Symptoms of Grief

Myth: Grief will only affect a person psychologically.
Reality: A grieving person may experience physical manifestations of the loss as part of an acute (or chronic)
grief response.

Myth: Physical symptoms e.g. stomach pain, anxiety, or headache, can't be because of grief.
Reality: A grieving person may experience physical manifestations of the loss as part of an acute (or chronic) grief response.

More on the Physical Symptoms of Grief

Norah Leney's poem "Grief" effectively captures some of these intense emotions & physical symptoms experienced as part of feeling a loss. I've found this poem to be a very effective way of explaining the deep emotional & physical response often felt while grieving. Many people understand "Grief" better after reading or hearing the poem.

    Deep sobs -
    That start beneath my heart
    and hold my body in a grip that hurts.
    The lump that swells inside my throat
    brings pain that tries to choke.
    Then tears course down my cheeks -
    I drop my head in my so empty hands
    abandoning myself to deep dark grief & know
    that with the passing time
    will come relief.

In addition to the intense emotional responses, a grieving person may also experience a variety of physical complaints:

  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • pain
  • gastrointestinal symptoms
  • chest pressure
  • palpitations
  • stomach pains
  • backaches
  • panic attacks
  • inreased anxiety

Many of these complaints are potentially serious & require a thorough evaluation to exclude a serious medical disorders before a diagnosis of grief or traumatic response can be made.


The previous sections have explored various myths & realities about the nature of grief, the timing of grief, the emotions of grief & the physical symptoms of grief. In this final section section the myths & realities about ways of coping with grief are discussed.

Identifying Myths & Revealing Realities about Ways People Cope with Grief

Myth: A grieving person should be left alone.
Reality: A grieving person needs opportunities to share memories & receive support.

Myth: It's unimportant for the grieving person to be supported in his or her journey of grief.
Reality: Grieving people need to be with those who nourish or sustain them. Sometimes those people may be family members, sometime not.

Myth: Telling a person to "Be brave" & "Keep a stiff upper lip" & "Deal with it" is helpful.
Reality: Sometimes it's better not to say anything to a grieving person & just listen.

Myth: A person can cope with a loss by ignoring or repressing the pain.
Reality: Painful experiences are a part of living & generally don't get better if ignored.

Myth: One must talk about grief in order to express grief.
Each person must find what works best for him or her. For some that's talking, for others writing in a journal, volunteering time or building something. Not everyone needs to talk about their

Myth: Rituals, memorials & funerals aren't necessary to help us deal with life & death.
Reality: Rituals can be healing - allowing people to express & share a belief system, culture & feelings when words alone may not be enough.

More on the Ways People Cope & Heal

Helen Keller writes about the "great family" one joins after sustaining a loss, that can provide an opportunity for sharing, support & healing:

    When it seems that our sorrow is too great to be borne,
    let us think of the great family of the heavy-hearted
    into which our grief has given us entrance & inevitably,
    we will feel about us, their arms & their understanding

Dr.'s Carl Hammerschlag & Howard Silverman describe the importance of ceremonies & rituals in their book Healing Ceremonies: Creating Personal Rituals for Spiritual, Emotional, Physical & Mental Health

    Ceremonies & rituals can be powerful tools
    in helping us to harness the power
    to deal with the important transitional events in our lives.

Funerals, memorial services or other rituals aren't designed for the dead, they're for the living. These ceremonies & rituals bring people together to help in the acceptance of the loss & the begining of the healing process & become tools for coping with transitions.

SOURCE: About.com
© 2006. Kirsti A. Dyer MD, MS, FT. Licensed for use to About.com
Dyer KA. 2005. Identifying, understanding, and working with grieving parents in the NICU, Part I: Identifying and understanding loss and the grief response. Neonatal Netw. 2005 May-Jun;24(3):35-46.
Dyer KA. 2002. Welcome to a Healing Place. Journey of Hearts Website. At: http://www.journeyofhearts.org/jofh/index_html
Hospice Foundation of America. Shattering Eight Myths About Grief. Date At: click here
Doka KJ. Getting Over It. Hospice Foundation of America. Journeys Newsletter. February 2002.
Sids Mid-Atlantic. 2006. Myths of Grief. At: click here 
Dyer, KA. 1998. Common Myths about Grief. At: http://www.journeyofhearts.org/jofh/kirstimd/myths.htm
UCD - CAPS. No Date. What is Grief? University of California Davis, Counseling and Psychological Services. At: http://caps.ucdavis.edu/resources/katrina/grief/index.htm
Parachin V. No Date. Grief: Nine Common Myths and Realities About Grief. HealthyPlace.com At: click here 
Hammerschlag CA. Silverman HD. 1997. Healing Ceremonies: Creating Personal Rituals for Spiritual, Emotional, Physical and Mental Health. New York, N.Y.: A Perigee Book.
Leney N. 1999. "Grief" in Harris JW, ed. Remembrances and Celebrations: A Book of Eulogies, Elegies, Letters, and Epitaphs. New York, N.Y.: Pantheon.
Colgrove M. 1982. How to Survive the Loss of a Love. New York, N.Y.: Bantum Book.
Rando TA. 1991. How to Go on Living when Someone You Love Dies. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books

Understanding Grief & Loss in Times of War & Disaster
By Jan Stepehen Maizler, LCSW
There are many different kinds of losses we can experience in our lives. Indeed, loss in human beings has its beginnings in the birth process that separates the infant from the comfort & security of the mother’s womb into a world where survival is conditional & predicated on individual responsibility.
The presumable final loss is the end of the human life cycle caused by death. There are many losses in between those polarities that relate to the developmental & aging process in each life.
All of these losses are expectable losses & our bereavement & mourning of these losses are colored by their expectability.

Losses can be understood & processed more effectively when they're placed in a meaningful theoretical framework. Here are some examples:

1. Normal (expected) losses vs. abnormal (unexpected) losses.
2. Universal losses vs. special losses.
3. Chronic losses vs. acute losses.
4. Mild losses vs. severe losses.
5. Replaceable losses vs. irreplaceable losses.
Unexpected losses, by definition can't be anticipated or prepared for & therefore impact people with a “rapid” challenge.
Adjustment to an unexpected loss is difficult because of the suddenness of the demand to the person’s psychic & emotional economy.
Unexpected losses can be acute or chronic. A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease is unexpected, but it's a chronic loss that may feature many years of gradual decline for the patient & their loved ones for adjustment.
Sudden death of a loved one thru war & natural disasters like the recent Tsunami are quintessential examples of acute unexpected losses & place upon survivors the most severe adaptational demands.

Losses are considered to have more impact on people when they're irreplaceable, which means that they can't be somewhat “undone.”
Loss of your car thru theft may indeed be potentially replaceable - obviously, the loss of a loved one isn't.

Therefore, understanding grief & loss in war & disaster means realizing that these are some of the most terrible losses experienced because they're unexpected, “special”, acute, severe & irreplaceable.
The symptoms of these losses can be understood just as much as a post -traumatic stress disorder, as they're a part of bereavement.

The Symptoms of Traumatic Loss:

Understanding & bearing the grieving process of traumatic loss is easier when you're aware of the symptoms that'll be experienced.
Traumatic loss can call forth:

1. Shock
2. Disorientation
3. Severe preoccupation
4. Hysteria
5. Acute suicidal feelings
6. Inability to function
7. Flashbacks
8. Amnesia
9. Severe phobic reactions
10. Startle reactions
11. Motor restlessness
12. Anxiety & Panic

These are certainly in contrast to the crying, sadness, preoccupation, anhedonia & sleep disorders found with milder, more expectable losses.

Stages Of Grief In Mild & Traumatic Loss

Denial. One can expect that traumatic losses will trigger some level of denial. Nature has provided people with the neuropsychological equipment to provide themselves with soothing body-based opiates that accompany denial & shock. This creates a stop-action, freezeframe period to buy the time involved to readjust.

Preoccupation with the Loss. Opening up to that which has been lost will involve various degrees of preoccupation with the loss itself. Many clinicians believe it isn't the passage of time that heals but the rearrangement of ideas that are involved in the passage of time.
Further they feel that the affect of sadness favor the slowing of mental processes which bring about more reorganization of ideas.

Griefwork or losswork is painful. It requires energy & expends energy. The bearing of emotional pain, physical symptoms & the shifting of previous habits or thinking which now demand reorganization, frequently cause personal exhaustion & the normal challenges of life may be too great at this time.

Another aspect of the preoccupation stage of loss represents what Kubler-Ross referred to as “bargaining”. In part, This term describes moments & sequences of the mental reorganization process, where the wish to return to the pre-loss stage is felt or expressed.
The broad sweep of optimal adjustment will hopefully dictate that this interlude will become a simple double-check which points out that, in fact, what's lost is lost & will stay that way & the mourning process proceeds.

The Tree of Loss. People undergoing loss may experience the return of previous losses, both resolved & unresolved. Clinicians are familiar with this phenomenon & remain aware that this presents an opportunity for additional resolutions. Each person has their own special tree of loss, which is based on the losses they experienced in their life from birth up until the present moment.

Completeness of the Mourning Process. How well the person proceeds from the preoccupation stage to the withdrawal of energy from the loss stage depends on how completely the griefwork has been done. Essential to this completeness are the confronting of painful feelings, dealing with unfinished business & guilt resolutions.

People may require some help to tie up their loose ends (unfinished business) from another human being or a trained professional when it seems they're unable to “move on”. This may involve revisitations of old emotional scenarios & events, which keep the person stuck in the past.

The presence of guilt (the personal belief that one has done something bad as regards to their value system) is sure to retard the resolution of loss. Again, it may be necessary to seek professional help when the trauma of the loss or guilt is severe.

Withdrawal of Energy & Acceptance. When all of the above has occurred, the grieving person will slowly withdraw the old emotional investment in that which was lost (decathexis). This may initiate a reworking of the previous stages in miniature, with an ultimate arrival some time in the future of acceptance of the loss, a sure sign that resolution & “moving on” has occurred.

Reinvestment of Energy. The “final” stage of this process, reinvestment of emotional energy may take a very long time to reach after the previous stages.
Many people that have experienced a traumatic loss may never reinvest their emotional energy out of a fear of further loss or because they remain somewhat emotionally disorganized. If the previous stages have been poorly resolved, the chances of optimal reinvestment may be slim to none.

Many people remain stuck in a pre-reinvestment state, haunting the interpersonal world, but never getting truly involved: they're like ghosts too frightened to move on.
Other people remain “stuck” when they idealize the traumatic loss of their loved one & subsist on the bittersweet fruit of martyrdom.

Others who are more fortunate realize that loss is inevitable & decide that they're too unwilling to settle for a life crippled by fear of further loss. These people reinvest their emotional energy & take their chances in lives hopefully enriched by a deeper understanding of the many dimensions of loss.

Jan Stephen Maizler, MSW, ACSW, LCSW, is in private practice in Miami, Florida. He can be reached through his websites www.transformationhandbook.com or www.relationshiphandbook.com

Shermin Davis helped edit this article. She is private practice in Miami, Florida and can be reached at Srdavis@prodigy.net

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Grief Recovery Ideas

Understanding Grief and Loss in Times of War and Disaster

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