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The Tasks of Mourning

After a death, survivors are left to face the pain of grief, and a new world without their loved one. Mourning is the process of adapting to loss through the completion of four tasks. Keep in mind that adapting doesn’t mean forgetting—it means finding a way to cherish the memories of a loved one, while continuing to move forward in life.

The Tasks of Mourning handout is based on the four tasks of mourning described by J. William Worden. The tasks help to normalize grief reactions, and empower clients to view grief as an active process they can work through, rather than a passive process that happens to them.

This info sheet describes each of the tasks with simple and concise language, so your clients can focus on healing. We suggest using this resource as an introduction to the tasks of mourning, a discussion piece, or a take-home reminder of the tasks.

Note: Mourning is not a linear process. The tasks are often completed in order, but not always. Also, a task may be revisited many times before it is completed.

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1. Worden, J. W. (2018). Grief counseling and grief therapy, fifth edition: A handbook for the mental health practitioner. Springer Publishing Company.

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