Loss, Grief, and Bereavement - Experience

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Grief: Loss of a loved one facts

  • Grief is quite common and is the normal internal feeling one experiences in reaction to a loss, while bereavement is the state of having experienced that loss.
  • Although most commonly discussed in reference to the death of a loved one, any major loss (for example, breakup of a relationship, job loss, or loss of living situation) can result in a grief reaction.
  • Prolonged grief is a reaction to loss that lasts more than one year and the grief reaction affecting all of the sufferer's close relationships, disrupting his or her beliefs, and resulting in the bereaved experiencing an ongoing longing for their deceased loved one.
  • Mourning is the outward expression of the loss of a loved one and usually involves culturally determined rituals that help make sense of the end of their loved one's life and gives structure to what can feel like a very confusing time. It is influenced by personal, familial, cultural, religious, and societal beliefs and customs.
  • The potential negative effects of a grief reaction can be significant and are often aggravated by grief triggers, events that remind the bereaved individual of their loved one, or the circumstances surrounding their loss.
  • The risk factors for experiencing more serious symptoms of grief for a longer period of time are related to the survivor's own physical and emotional health before the loss, the relationship between the bereaved and their family member or other loved one, as well as related to the nature of the death.
  • Bereaved individuals who feel the death of their loved one is unexpected or violent may be at greater risk for suffering from major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or prolonged grief.
  • The seven emotional stages of grief are shock or disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance/hope.
  • Symptoms of grief can be emotional, physical, social, or religious in nature.
  • For children and adolescents, their reactions to the death of a loved one usually reflect the particular developmental stage of the child or adolescent.
  • To assess grief, a health caregiver usually asks questions to assess what symptoms the individual is suffering from, then considers whether he or she is suffering from normal grief, prolonged grief, or some other issue.
  • Coping tips for grieving include the bereaved individual's caring for his or herself through continuing nutritious and regular eating habits, getting extra rest, and communicating with surviving loved ones.
  • Bereavement sometimes ultimately leads to enhanced personal development.
  • Consulting with an attorney or other legal expert is advisable when either planning for or managing the legal matters associated with a death.
  • Some of the major legal issues involved with dying include the person's right to have informed consent to receive or refuse treatment, advance directives, establishing a living will, and making funeral arrangements.
Return to Grief: Loss of a Loved One

See what others are saying

Comment from: Me, Published: July 09

My mom dies a year ago, my dad 4 mos to the day. Everyone I have loved is gone. My wife and parents didn't get along so I cannot confide in her, so I grieve alone. It has been a year and I feel like I am coasting through life, doing what I must, not doing much else. It gets easier at 6 mos, then easier at 12 mos. I now realize I must push through it, accept it for what it is and move on as they did with their parents and those parents who had parents who passed. Doesn't mean I don't hate it, just means I too have a life and a wife who needs me and I haven't really been there the past 12 mos and may not be then next 12 mos but at lease I am aware of it more so and will push through it and move on, just like all those children who have lost their parents, I am not the only one though it feels that way selfishly.

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Comment from: Birdy, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: December 02

I lost my fianc to suicide. I feel isolated and irregular modes spurts of anger towards those nearest to me and really resents full and unsure about almost everything I do towards others and myself. I'm more angry than sad and I feel very little about myself but hurt inside when I'm getting ready to go to bed or the sun goes down I feel a sense of emptiness in my body along with anger and hurt and I cry for him wishing he was still among us just a call away the fact that I can't hear his voice terrifies me. And takes my breath away I loved him so much. Since he took his life I feel I should take mine but then I think about my children and it seems more bearable to continue living. Objects seem deem and dull no interest in my life. When I wake up I feel there is no sense in starting a new day without him in our lives I'm sick of feeling at all.

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