Nobody has a safeguard against loss. All people experience loss and the accompanying grief process during their lifetime. Grieving is a complex process. There are many different forms of grief. The grief process is understood in this study as identifiable moments rather than successive stages. The moments of grief are experienced on an unconscious level and vary in intensity. The role of the counsellor is to facilitate the process of bringing the experiences of grief into the conscious. This provides the counselee with the opportunity to work through his or her experience of loss. The contention of this study is that an existential experience of God’s presence can counteract the despair often associated with loss and the grief process. A method of story telling is used to bring hopeless stories into the empathic presence of God. Hope then becomes possible. A person’s experience of God is articulated by means of metaphors. Some of these are shared with the faith community as a whole, whereas other metaphors express the person’s individual experience of God. The different God images function in relation to one another. This study investigates how images of God can be harmful or helpful to the counselee in the grief process. The use of imagery assists in bringing the person’s perceptions of God to conscious awareness. By means of questions asked from a not-knowing position the counsellor helps to facilitate the telling of their story of grief, the story of God’s presence, and eventually their new story of hope for the future. The counselee experiences consolation, healing, liberation and a victory which becomes an existential reality in God’s presence. This pneumatic event is understood as God’s deliverance through Jesus Christ from a situation of hopelessness. This liberation takes place here-and-now. At the same time it is open toward the future.
Thesis (PhD (Practical Theology))--University of Pretoria, 2006.