Let's take a look at the definition of some words that are often associated with grief and mourning.
Please remember, this is only a brief description of these terms. Many aspects of grief and human psychology are very complex. Our intent here is just to help the average person gain a better (brief) understanding of the subject.
I. Key Words:
A. “Grief”– is described as the mental suffering
experienced over a loss.
B. “Mourning” – is the process of adapting to the loss.
C. “Bereavement” – refers to the condition of having lost
a loved one to death.
D. “Pathology” – (illness) in grief relates to the intensity
and duration of the reactions, not just their
presence in a grieving person.
II. “Normal” Grief:
behaviors that are common
after a loss (death or loss
of status, possessions, etc…)
A. Feelings- of sadness, fear, anger,
Sensations – tightness
in chest or throat,
muscular weakness, exhaustion, etc…
C. Cognitions–disbelief, confusion,
hallucinations (“hearing” or “seeing” the
person who died).
D. Behaviors – sleep and appetite
withdrawal, or dreaming of the deceased.
Note: all of the behaviors listed in Section II. above are NORMAL and do not reflect pathology or sickness in themselves.
III. "Symbolic Grief"
- has many of the aspects of "Normal" Grief as described
However Symbolic Grief may be brought on by a wide
variety of circumstances that are not related to an actual
death of someone.
Here is a partial list of occurrences that may bring about
Symbolic Grief and who may experience it:
A. Divorce: the "death" of marriage - both spouses and the
children are affected.
B. Children being placed in Foster Care.
C. Parents whose children were placed in Foster Care.
D. Foster Parents when children are removed from their
E. Parents when grown children "leave the nest".
F. Parents & children when there is a seriously ill member
of the family.
G. Elderly people when they need to move to a Nursing
Home or other care facility.
H. Men or women who lose a business or career.
I. Families affected by fire, natural disaster (flood
tornado, hurricane, etc...) or war / terrorism.
J. Loss of a beloved animal companion.
K. Loss of material possessions from any kind
of unexpected / unplanned event.
L. Loss of family member due to "estrangement"
IV. Types of Unresolved Grief:
A. "Chronic Grief" - feels like an unending conflict of
emotions or an inability to go on with life. Can
feel like being lost in the past, etc...
B. "Delayed Grief" - grief reactions that can "surface"
many years after the actual death. May be
triggered by a new loss or by witnessing
someone else who is grieving.
C. "Exaggerated Grief" - feelings of loss, sadness, guilt,
despair, and hopelessness are intensified to
the extreme. Persons experiencing
exaggerated grief may go so far as to
contemplate or attempt suicide.
D. "Masked Grief" - physical health issues that do not
seem to have a biological (medical) cause.
Unchecked high blood pressure, stomach