Q. Before I lost my father to cancer, the hospice volunteer discussed with him the stages of death and dying. While it gave him some peace, it hasn’t done much for me. Is there something wrong with my brain? I’d appreciate your comments.

A. I doubt there’s anything wrong with your brain! The death of a parent can be a major stressor. I remember when my father died. It was a difficult time for me! I’m glad that the Hospice volunteer was able to help your father. The landmark work by Kubler-Ross has helped a great many individuals prepare for their own death with dignity. You, on the other hand, are a survivor. The grief-recovery process for individuals who survive a major loss can be very different from the grieving process an individual goes through when he/she is facing death. It’s vitally important to recognize this difference.

Recently I used the Grief Recovery Pyramid, and its accompanying outline, with a group of teachers who were trying to help their students deal with the aftermath of a school shooting. They found it very helpful. I’ve sent you a copy of that handout. Hopefully, it will give you some new options and provide additional strategies for dealing with death from the position of a survivor. I encourage you to take it one day at a time and do the work that’s necessary to heal from this loss.

You may want to refer to the Grief Recovery Pyramid on this website for additional information.