Grief and Bereavement

What are grief and bereavement? The grief response is a natural adaptive process resulting from a loss of someone or something (be)loved or to which one is emotionally attached. Grief is not just an emotional response. The grieving response may or may not be dominated by emotions – it may be dominated by changes in thinking, bodily (somatic), spiritual or social changes. We don’t just “recover” or “overcome” a loss of the beloved or a customary way of living. Each person’s path through loss to healing is different and exists within a larger contextual, cognitive, emotional and/or social context. Grief is a normal and natural individual (or sometimes collective as with a natural disaster) response to loss. In the case of “pre-bereavement” a person is looking ahead to an expected loss, a disorienting or painful change and is experiencing emotional, cognitive or bodily symptoms. This too is a normal grief response.

Coming to terms with change and loss.

Loss means a dramatic change in the lived reality of a person from the expected, customary way of the world and one’s expectations of the way it “ought” to be, based upon the way it was. A loss might be a death but it might be a change in our assumptive world. The grief may be short-lived or may require a very long to heal enough to carry on in a “normal” way after a shattering change. Such catastrophic losses might be that of a loved one, a pet, a job or way of life or it could be triggered by a terrible diagnosis or loss of bodily functional capacity.

Who benefits from grief and bereavement care and counseling?

Loss and grief happen to all people but not everyone has the same response. The grieving process of each individual is unique. Everyone suffers but not everyone suffers in the same way. This means that the trajectory of each person’s healing is also unique and variable. Just as noone suffers the same – likewise no two people heal in the same way or in the same time.

Types of grief

Some common types of grief include the following: “Normal” grief, anticipatory grief, complicated grief, chronic grief, delayed grief, distorted grief, cumulative grief, exaggerated grief, secondary loss, masked grief, disenfranchised grief, and traumatic grief (that may include moral injury).