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The DLRN Approach

We live and grieve within the context of our friends, families and communities. Often people want to help and we need help, but we are all unsure how to match the support available with our needs. Here is one approach to use as a guide to make good use of those caring people around us who want to help:

Review friends and relatives and how they fit into the following categories:

Doers (D): people who can be counted on to get things done (e.g., assisting with housework; consulting on a computer program)

Listeners (L): friends who can lend a sympathetic ear, without becoming reactive, prematurely advice-giving, preachy, or critical

Respite (R): support figures with whom to engage in specific activities for the purpose of simple enjoyment (e.g., going to a movie; exercising)

Negative figures (N): people who are better off avoided, or if essential to interact with (e.g., a critical parent or relative), to engage in limited interaction.

  • Try to identify six people in each category, and program their numbers into your cell phone
  • Schedule at least one D, L & R interaction each week
  • Play to the strengths of each person; someone good at home repair might be bad company at a concert; and enjoyable respite figures might be uncomfortable with strong emotions
  • Reach out to would-be supporters understanding that others often hold back out of fear of intruding
  • Practice assertive responses to critical or nosy people
  • Consider the value of not talking at times about the loss to help balance one's own emotions and the emotions of support people
  • Spread out one's needs among several support people to avoid burning out any one person

Taken and adapted from Ken Doka's (2010) DLR approach found and expanded upon in From Stage Follower to Stage Manager : Contemporary Directions in Bereavement Care by Robert Neimeyer in Beyond K├╝bler-Ross: New Perspectives on Death, Dying and Grief edited by Kenneth J. Doka and Amy S. Tucci, Hospice Foundation of America, 2011.


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