Understanding the Circle of Grief Ring Theory

Grieving is a natural response to the loss of a loved one, and it can be an overwhelming and emotional experience. When we lose someone close to us, we go through a series of emotions, from shock and denial to anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. The process of grieving is not linear, nor is it the same for everyone. The Circle of Grief Ring Theory, also known as the Dual Process Model of Grieving, offers a helpful framework to understand the complexities of the grieving process.

What is the Circle of Grief Ring Theory?

The Circle of Grief Ring Theory was developed by Margaret Stroebe and Henk Schut in the late 1990s. The theory suggests that the grieving process is not a straight line, but rather a circle, with two different processes working interactively. One process is called loss orientation, in which the griever is focused on the loss itself, processing the emotional pain, and adjusting to the new reality. The other process is called restoration orientation, in which the griever focuses on the practical changes that need to be made as a result of the loss.

The Circle of Grief Ring Theory proposes that the grieving individual moves back and forth between these two processes until they reach a state of equilibrium. The idea behind this theory is that grieving individuals have dual needs: the need to focus on the loss itself and the need to find a way to continue life without the deceased. The Circle of Grief Ring Theory suggests that both needs are essential for healthy grieving.

How does the Circle of Grief Ring Theory work?

The Circle of Grief Ring Theory suggests that the grieving process is not a linear process but is rather cyclical. The stages of grief are not fixed or predetermined. Still, grieving individuals may move forward and backward between the two processes of loss orientation and restoration orientation as they go through the grieving process.

In the loss orientation process, the primary focus is on the loss itself. This process includes expressing emotions such as sadness, anger, and guilt. It also involves accepting the reality of the loss and reconnecting with memories of the deceased.

The restoration orientation process focuses on the practical adjustments that need to be made as a result of the loss. This process includes taking care of oneself, returning to work or school, and rebuilding a life without the deceased. This process is essential to feel a sense of control and stability in one’s life after a significant loss.

According to the Circle of Grief Ring Theory, the grieving individual may move between the stages of loss orientation and restoration orientation in different ways. It is common for people to begin with loss orientation and then move to restoration orientation before returning to the loss orientation stage. This process repeats itself until the person reaches a state of equilibrium, in which they can focus on moving forward with life while still honouring the memory of the deceased.

Why is the Circle of Grief Ring Theory important?

The Circle of Grief Ring Theory is a helpful framework for understanding the grieving process in a more comprehensive manner. By acknowledging that the grieving process is not linear and that it consists of two interactive processes, individuals who are grieving can better understand their own feelings and emotions.

The theory also assures those who are grieving that it is normal to move back and forth between the stages of loss orientation and restoration orientation. This encourages individuals to honour their own unique grieving process and to feel less isolated or confused about their feelings. Additionally, acknowledging the importance of the restoration process during grieving helps individuals to prioritize self-care, which can be helpful in managing stress and preventing burnout.

Furthermore, the Circle of Grief Ring Theory can be used to inform the support and care provided to those who are grieving. For example, individuals providing care or support to people who are grieving must acknowledge the need for both loss orientation and restoration orientation. They must create a safe and supportive environment that allows people to mourn and adjust to the new reality while also supporting them in rebuilding their life without the deceased.

Conclusion

The Circle of Grief Ring Theory provides a valuable framework for understanding the grieving process. This theory acknowledges that grieving is not a linear process and consists of two interactive processes. Understanding these processes can help individuals feel less isolated and more in control during their grieving process. Additionally, the theory can inform the care and support provided to those who are grieving, emphasizing the importance of promoting self-care, understanding, and emotional support. Thus, it can be said that the Circle of Grief Ring Theory is an important tool for anyone who wants to understand the complexities of grieving and provide support to someone who is grieving.

FAQs

FAQs About Circle of Grief Ring Theory

What is the Circle of Grief Ring Theory?

The Circle of Grief Ring Theory is a model that explains how people experience grief after the loss of a loved one. It consists of five stages: Shock and Denial, Anger and Guilt, Depression and Loneliness, Upward Turn, and Acceptance and Hope. The theory suggests that people move in and out of these stages in a circular fashion and that there is no set timeline for completing them.

How can the Circle of Grief Ring Theory help someone who is grieving?

The Circle of Grief Ring Theory can be helpful for people who are grieving because it validates the various emotions and reactions that they may experience. It also provides a framework for understanding that grief is a process that involves many different stages, and that healing is not linear. Recognizing and accepting these stages can help people feel less alone and more supported as they navigate the grieving process.

Is the Circle of Grief Ring Theory universally accepted?

The Circle of Grief Ring Theory is one of many models that have been developed to explain the grieving process. While it has been widely discussed and used in the field of grief counseling, it is not universally accepted or applicable to everyone. People experience grief in different ways and may not necessarily move through the stages outlined in the theory. However, many people find the theory to be a helpful tool for understanding and coping with their grief.


References

1. Worden, J.W. (2009). Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner. Springer Publishing Company.

2. Neimeyer, R.A. (2000). Searching for the Meaning of Grief: Contemporary Approaches to Theory and Practice. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

3. Stroebe, W., & Schut, H. (1999). The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement: Rationale and Description. Death Studies, 23(3), 197-224. doi: 10.1080/07481189920090410