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Tasks of Mourning: Quick Reference

After a death, friends and family face complicated emotions, and a new reality without the deceased. They must learn how to keep the person in their heart, while moving forward in life. The tasks of mourning describe how to adjust to loss in a healthy way.

The Tasks of Mourning: Quick Reference worksheet provides an overview of the four tasks of mourning. This handout lists each task, along with a brief description of each one. In therapy, the tasks of mourning can be used as a framework to assess grief, and to determine a course of action.

The tasks of mourning, introduced by J.W. Worden, are as follows:

  • To accept the reality of the loss
  • To process the pain of grief
  • To adjust to a world without the deceased
  • To remember the deceased while moving forward in life

The task model describes mourning as an active process, as opposed to a passive one. The bereaved are empowered to work through their grief so that they can move forward in life, while remembering their loved one.

Mourning is not a linear process—the tasks may be completed in any order, and revisited multiple times. Additionally, there is no set timeframe for completing the tasks.

If you are looking for a more in-depth description of the tasks, try the Tasks of Mourning worksheet.

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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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