Understanding Stress Overload in the Dual Process Model of Grief

capturing the concept of oscillating between engagement with grief and disengagement through normal life activities

The Dual Process Model (DPM) of Grief

The Dual Process Model of Grief, which focuses on the stressors and coping mechanisms of bereaved people, categorizes the grieving process into two components: Loss Orientation (LO) and Restoration Orientation (RO). LO deals with aspects of the loss experience, such as confronting and reminiscing, while RO focuses on secondary stressors like reorientation and adapting to life changes.

The Missing Link: Stress Overload

A crucial aspect not fully explored in the DPM is the concept of stress overload. This refers to the perception of having more to cope with than one feels capable of handling. It’s not just about multiple losses, but an overstimulation from too much of anything. This concept is vital for counselors to understand the state of being, coping ability, and health of their clients.

Personal Experience with Stress Overload

I recently experienced this overload feeling, which was not just Prolonged Grief Disorder, Depression, or Generalized Anxiety, but a compounding effect of multiple stressors. My journey involved a series of losses, including a missed job promotion, the loss of a beloved pet, a fraudulent contractor, the death of my biological father, job losses, and financial setbacks. These events, occurring within a span of two years, led to extreme stress overload, morphing into depression and anxiety.

The Importance of Recognizing Stress Overload

Understanding stress overload within the framework of the DPM is crucial. It distinguishes between grief and an individual’s capacity to handle stress. Recognizing this can help in providing more targeted and effective support for those dealing with compounded stressors alongside their grief.

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