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How to Cope with Loss, Grief, Death & Dying:
Professionally & Personally

These materials were prepared for the guest lecture delivered on February 7, 2002 for the California Maritime Academy (California State University, Maritime) Social Science 210 course on "Dying: The Final Stage of Living." Some of the material in the handouts will be adapted as articles for the Loss, Change & Grief and the Resource sections of this site.

Learning Objectives

  • Recognize various types of losses.
  • Understand the grief response to loss, how this applies in daily life and in dealing with death and dying.
  • Recognize common disenfranchised or hidden grief responses.
  • Become better prepared for dealing with sudden, accidental or traumatic death.
  • Develop skills for delivering "Bad News."
  • Learn how to deal with the loss of a colleague.
  • Become more comfortable at being with a dying person.
  • Discover benefits derived from working with the dying.
  • Learn coping strategies for dealing with loss and death—professionally and personally.
Links to Handouts
Excerpts from CISM Article as to the importance of education
Should there be a "Critical Incident" aboard a ship at sea, as a result of either combat or accident, it is quite possible that the ship's crew will have to rely solely on deployed assets, and not depend on outside personnel. A ship at sea may quite simply not be within range of any shore-based assistance. If the post-incident response cannot be provided by already-deployed personnel, it may not be provided at all, and certainly not in an expeditious fashion.

Appropriate education should be provided through General Military Training to all crew members in the symptoms and effects of traumatic stress, along with some of the ways in with which it may be dealt. This is important for a number of reasons. First, by increasing the crew's awareness of the effects of traumatic stress before an incident, they are less likely to be completely blindsided by them and less likely to be afraid that they are "going crazy" when they suffer from inability to sleep, loss of appetite, intrusive images or thoughts, etc. This is where the CISD mantra, "These are the normal responses of normal people to abnormal circumstances," becomes invaluable.

The benefits of putting such a model for Critical Incident Stress Management into effect are many.
In the short term, the crew of a ship suffering from a traumatic incident will be more fully operational much more quickly, thus increasing operational readiness.
In the long term, the provision of such a program, and the consequent reductions in the effects of traumatic stress and improvements in morale, can help our retention rates.

Reverend Canon Francis C. Zanger, M.Div.
United States Navy Chaplain Corps

See the Emergency 911 Page for links to immediate resources
if you are feeling helpless, hopeless, overwhelmingly depressed, or suicidal.

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Last update July 20, 2002