Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Art Therapist  •  360-293-3489

Grief and Loss

The loss of a loved one and the ensuing grief process can take several forms, grieving a death, ambiguous loss, anticipatory loss, and complicated grief (see below). My approach to bereavement processing is addressed primarily through art therapy, creating personal rituals, creating on-going memories of the the loved one, and other tools for the adjustment to the loss.  I respectfully accompany you on your journey.

Children in particular have difficulty understanding what death is, or what is happening when a family member is dying. They process grief through their play, and have questions whose answers are challenging even for adults to comprehend. Often when other family members are also grieving the same loss children's grief can be unrecognized.


Mourning the loss of a loved one, pets, and significant collective deaths is a challenge at all ages.  Sometimes we wonder if we are grieving normally, or don’t recognize the symptoms of grief.  There may be conflicting feelings or distress that one is numbed out, guilt about unfinished business, fear of the future, anger at being left, and tearfulness.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve, each person has his/her own unique approach.  Sometimes, though, a person may feel stuck in their grief, and would like to reach some reconciliation. 

Ambiguous Loss occurs when we cannot have closure or completely grieve a loss because a person is physically present but psychologically absent; or a person is physically absent but psychologically present in our hearts and minds.  With ambiguous loss you may feel you have lost the sense of familiarity with your loved one, or things will never be the same. The following situations are examples of ambiguous loss:

          military personnel missing in action

          deportation of a family member.


          Divorce, or end of a relationship and the death of former partner, or their extended     

       family members.

  •   The decline of a family member through dementia

Anticipatory Loss  is when we experience the sadness and confusion before a loss such as with a friend or family member who is dying from a terminal illness, or when we know we will be moving locations and will be at a distance from loved ones and established community.

“Anticipatory grief takes many forms, most often fears about actual or possible losses. These may include fears of:

·      Living life without your loved one

·      Breakdown of family structure

·      A new beginning — taking a road not traveled

·      Losing your social life

·      Losing companionship

·      Losing independence

·      Losing control”


Complicated Grief is long-term grief that dominates a person’s life, is unreconciled, and may result after multiple deaths or losses within a short period of time that get entangled so reconciliation is compounded.

In addition to general grief reactions complicated grief may additionally be displayed in:

*Sweeping changes to all relationships

*Sense of meaninglessness

*Prolonged yearnings and searching for the deceased

*Destruction of personal beliefs