Suicide is a devastating and traumatic way for a loved one to die often leaving those bereaved exhausted in their efforts to make sense or meaning about why, and how this death could have happened. Research has described the repetitive and exhausting questioning and confusion about the manner of death, the griever’s relationship with the loved one, and for some a disintegration in the sense of self. Suicide grief has been described as a ground zero with the fall out altering beyond recognition the griever’s world. Significantly the fall out for those bereaved by suicide is found in an increased incidence of prolonged grief, depression, mental health issues and a disturbingly higher risk of suicide. Research has stressed that the ability to construct a meaningful, reparative narrative is a key protective factor for those suffering this traumatic form of bereavement. However recurring themes of guilt, blame, betrayal, stigma, and distressing disruptions within communication and support systems, frequently overwhelms the griever’s ability to construct a restorative narrative to support adaptive grieving. This webinar in addressing these challenges and protective factors, will consider as a guide to clinical practice, a relational, meaning making model ‘the walking in the shoes model of suicide bereavement’ (Neimeyer & Sands, 2011; Sands, 2009; Sands, Jordan & Neimeyer, 2011). In this context we will outline and discuss with reference to case material, gentle ways of clinically intervening drawing on narrative theory and expressive arts theory to support self-regulation and resilient narrative reconstruction.
- Identify narrative reconstruction challenges and protective factors for those bereaved by suicide.
- Outline research findings that stress the significance of postvention intervention as prevention for those bereaved by suicide.
- Apply as a clinical practice guide a relational, meaning making model of suicide bereavement ‘the walking in the shoes model’.
- Discuss clinical interventions that draw on narrative theory and the expressive arts to gently support self-regulation, resilience and restorative narrative reconstruction.
Diana Sands, PhD, Director, Bereaved by Suicide Centre for Intense Grief, is a postvention and prevention clinician, researcher and educator. Diana provides counseling following sudden, violent and traumatic death, and in particular individual, couple and family counseling and group programs, for those who have lost a loved one through suicide. Her counseling and group programs draw on a range of theoretical perspectives including narrative and family systems theory and incorporate expressive artwork.
She is a Clinical Member of the Psychotherapy and Counseling Federation of Australia, and the past Deputy Chair of Postvention Australia, and the Honorary Advisor to the Wings of Hope Charity. Diana has served on the NSW Executive Committee, National Association Loss and Grief, and as the NSW representative with Suicide Prevention Australia.
Diana is a Member of the International Work Group Death, Dying and Bereavement, and a recipient of the Vice Chancellor Post Graduate Research Grant, Australian Government Research Scholarship. Diana has presented seminars and workshops in Australia and Internationally drawing on her clinical experience and research. She has published a number of peer reviewed academic articles and book chapters and is the author of a book and DVD resource, Red Chocolate Elephants: For Children Bereaved by Suicide.