It is commonly stated that loss is a pervasive theme in human services and that many recurrent users of welfare services have cumulative and often poorly resolved experiences of loss (Lloyd, 1992; Currer, 2001). Indeed, the primary purpose of this book is to explore that very assertion. Equally common for mainstream practitioners is the experience that they do not know how to accommodate loss work within their overall remit, nor does the available theory seem to ‘fit’ many of the situations with which they are working. It does, however, ring bells with their personal bereavements or relationship losses, sometimes with disturbing accuracy. This mismatch is frustrating. If loss is fundamental to human existence, then an understanding of the experience and the appropriate offer of help, should be integral to everything that human services practitioners do. This chapter explores some of the tensions and dilemmas posed in health, social care and pastoral settings, for multitask and multiple role practitioners seeking to recognize the significance, and work with the consequences, of loss for users of their service. It then suggests a framework which purports to encompass the range of loss experiences, and which might enable the practitioner to connect working with the implicit or explicit loss with those aspects of their intervention which are ostensibly the primary focus.
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