Expert at Nacogdoches conference on loss explained grief is a complex issue

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Today the interesting process of how many people turn to their faith after experiencing a loss was the focus of a conference in Nacogdoches.

An author and expert on the topic addressed the question of what constitutes a loss.

Art work portraying very intimate messages can help a person through their grief.

But do we really know what makes an individual sad?

Dr. Kenneth Doka, a prolific author on death and dying, warns us about disenfranchised grief, the kind of loss not acknowledged by others.

"Sometimes because a relationship like an ex-spouse isn't acknowledged," Doka said. "Sometimes a loss like still birth may not be acknowledged or a divorce may not be acknowledged. Grief can be disenfranchised for many reasons."

Nacogdoches psychiatrist Dr. James Buckingham often acknowledges disenfranchised grief with his patients.

"It may be an animal, may be a job, may be a lot of things," Buckingham said. "And it's really a shift in the way we see things. The way we're approaching things."

Health professionals, counselors and educators have thrown out the five stages of grief model. They've learned grief is way too complex.

"There are other kinds of reactions. Guilt, loneliness, yearning and grief also affects us in very physical ways," Doka said. "We experience pain. We experience discomfort. It affects us spiritually."

People of many faiths shared how their religion deals with loss. Fortunately, there's a universal suggestion on how to help a grieving person.

"To say I'm sorry. To listen, a lot," Doka said. "And to suggest tangible ways you can help."

So don't say if you need anything call me. Instead, be pro-active. Say what you can do, whether it's a meal, an errand or simply acknowledging the person's grief.

In addition to lectures from a wide variety of speakers the faith and loss conference offered a 'comfort room'. It was a place for individuals to receive solace or peer support.

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