Loss & Grief Series: Denial
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Grief happens when people experience death or other significant losses. Decades ago, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross described five responses to grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Denial is frequently one of our first responses to a threatened or actual loss. Everyone’s experience is individual. We may not experience all of those responses. We may find our thoughts, feelings and moods changing on a daily or hourly basis as our experience and awareness of our loss shifts. What is your experience?
Background Information:This conversation guide is part of a six-guide series. Explore the series in order through Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance, and Finding Meaning. Resources that may be helpful in understanding the grief experience include this Harvard Business Review article.
Let's Get Started!
Living Room Conversations offers a simple, sociable and structured way to practice communicating across differences while building understanding and relationships. Typically, 4-6 people meet in person or by video call for about 90 minutes to listen to and be heard by others on one of our nearly 100 topics. Rather than debating or convincing others, we take turns talking to share, learn, and be curious. No preparation is required, though background links with balanced views are available on some topic pages online. Anyone can host using these italicized instructions. Hosts also participate.
Why We're Here (~10 min)
Share your name, where you live, what drew you here, and if this is your first conversation.
How We'll Engage (~5 min)
These will set the tone of our conversation; participants may volunteer to take turns reading them aloud. (Click here for the full conversation agreements.)
- Be curious and listen to understand.
- Show respect and suspend judgment.
- Note any common ground as well as any differences.
- Be authentic and welcome that from others.
- Be purposeful and to the point.
- Own and guide the conversation.
What We’ll Talk About
Optional: a participant can keep track of time and gently let people know when their time has elapsed.
Getting to Know Each Other (~10 min)
Each participant can take 1-2 minutes to answer one of these questions:
- What are your hopes and concerns for your family, community and/or the country?
- What would your best friend say about who you are?
- What sense of purpose / mission / duty guides you in your life?
Take ~2 minutes each to answer a question below without interruption or crosstalk. After everyone has answered, the group may take a few minutes for clarifying or follow up questions/responses. Continue exploring additional questions as time allows..
- What unanticipated losses or significant changes have you experienced?
- What do you remember about your first awareness of the loss? What were your thoughts and feelings?
- How do you find yourself thinking about the ongoing course and impact of this loss?
- Have you personally felt or witnessed others feeling the impact of this loss? If so, what happened?
- What is your experience with denial? What does it look and feel like in your life? How do you manage those thoughts and feelings?
Reflecting on the Conversation (~15 min)
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
- What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
- How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?