VISTAS Client Characteristics and Needs

VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.

Shadows of Grief: Experiences of Loss Within Transitional Families

Peggy P. Whiting and Elizabeth James


Grief reconciliation may be seen as the reconstruction of one’s life story, a personal meaning making activity that occurs within a social context (Nadeau, 1997; Neimeyer, 2001). Family, as a concept, might be defined broadly as the web of social interaction within which we live, grieve, and heal. Grief has the capacity to isolate family members from each other, to separate and divide instead of integrating and bridging. Families who are blending as a result of transitions such as death or divorce have unique characteristics of grief. They often need counseling assistance in understanding the diverse perspectives coexisting within the family unit. In order to extend best practice intervention, a counselor will be well served to explore models of grief as they apply to families in transition and to utilize the concept of shadow grief when assisting families in understanding each other. The hope, from a counseling perspective, is that family, as we define it, might act as a harbor as an individual shifts and expands the narrative after loss.

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