The Range of Response to Loss Model

While many theories identify broadly common characteristics in grief, what is clear in practice and research into bereavement is the diversity of response to loss. The RRL model is a framework which began by identifying three distinct responses to loss and their characteristics (Machin 2001; Machin 2009/March 2014).

Overwhelmed

Being overwhelmed is a state dominated by emotional and cognitive distress and expressed, for example, in the following ways:

  • I can't cope
  • My world is in pieces
  • Everything has changed for the worse
  • I feel upset all of the time
  • I can't think about anything except losing....

Controlled

Being controlled is a state dominated by the need to avoid emotional expression and focus on day to day life and expressed, for example, in the following ways;

  • I need to stay strong for my family
  • I've got too many things to do to feel sorry for myself
  • I don't need to keep thinking and talking about.....
  • You have to get on with life

Balanced / resilient

Being balanced and/or resilient is a state expressed, for example, in the following ways; 

  • I know there are people there to help me
  • It's OK to be sad
  • I believe I can cope with life after ....'s death, even though it is difficult 
  • It takes time to get over the death of someone you're close to

The RRL model echoes concepts within other key grief theories:

  • The state of being overwhelmed is consistent with the concepts of an anxious/ambivalent attachment style and with loss orientation of the dual process model.
  • The state of being controlled is consistent with the concepts of an avoidant attachment style and with restoration orientation of the dual process model. 
  • The balanced (resilient) state is consistent with the concepts of a secure attachment style and with the capacity to oscillate in the dual process model.

References

  • Machin, L. (2001) Exploring a framework for understanding the range of response to loss; a study of clients receiving bereavement counselling. Unpublished PhD thesis: Keele University, UK.
  • Machin, L. (2009/2014) Working with Loss and Grief: . London: Sage.