The ripple effect of grief, Part II


When there is a loss, there is a ripple effect that moves out from the disruption - to the individual, to the family and to the community. But there can also be a ripple effect of healing.

Dear Angela: Last week you brought up the topic of how an event can shake the foundation of a person's reality, sense of safety and perception of oneself. Within last week's article we explored the emotional domains of resiliency which included: a secure base, social functions, positive values, talents and interests, friendships and a cognitive/educational foundation. Within your personal life these foundational domains may have been shaken. By working with your loss, you are able to realign these bases and start to have them become your pillars of resiliency once again. This restabilizing can happen within the family as well.

When there is a loss there is a ripple effect that moves out from the disruption - to the individual, to the family and to the community. There can be a rebound of healing that also ripples out as a community recovers and leadership works with the community to reestablish safety and a healthy balance. Within a healthy community, there is the potential for a parallel process in which the community heals while the individual heals as well.

An area that is often overlooked as an integral part of healing is the business sector of the community. Good leadership within an organization can make an enormous difference in personal, professional and collective healing - leadership that recognizes the importance of the grief process and gives supportive avenues for healthy communication, emotional support and practical and professional transparency. A level of empathy for what is being felt within the company can build a stronger and healthier organization. More companies are implementing employment assistance programs that allow staff to receive individual supports in areas such as psychotherapy, legal aid and many more that allow the individual to be safe and healthy in the working environment.

Through leadership that promotes emotional healing, the company can experience a higher level of commitment to the organization, ensuring healthier workers, which means less absenteeism and better retention and loyalty to the company. In addition, staff wants to come and be a part of that organization's commitment. One study by Karl Thompson in the UK showed that the average person works from age 18 to 68 which is equivalent to 50 years of paid employment. That is 92,120 hours! With this amount of time, it makes sense that your working environment impacts and bleeds into your personal life such as relationships, family, attitude and overall life quality.

With good leadership that promotes healing from loss, a community can find resiliency, come back stronger and be a role model for developing healthier family systems which impact the individual. Within this cycle of promoting healing after loss, there is a win-win opportunity for individuals, families, organizations and communities. Compounded losses and fear can be diminished, and resiliency, safety, growth and productivity can be reinstated within all arenas of your life.

Thank you for the question. I wish you well. Until next week, take care.

Golden Willow Retreat is a nonprofit organization focused on emotional healing and recovery from any type of loss. Direct any questions to Dr. Ted Wiard, EdD, LPCC, CGC, founder of Golden Willow Retreat at GWR @

This weekly column seeks to help educate our community about emotional healing through grief. People may write questions to Golden Willow Retreat and they will be answered privately to you and possibly as a future article for others. Please list a first name that grants permission for printing.

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