Bereavement is a time of grief and mourning as a result of the death of a beloved individual or animal (Boelen & van den Bout, 2012). During this period, those affected try to come to terms with their loss.
This is the normal process of grieving devoid of any poor adjustment. The grieving person does not avoid the reminders or painful feelings of the dead. The grieving person may go through stages of numbness or even find it hard to come to terms with the loss (Boelen & van den Bout, 2012). However, as the reality of the loss settles in, the grieving individual starts to manifest intense emotions like anger and sadness. Sometimes, the grieving period may be interspersed with episodes of ecstasy or enthusiasm. These are ordinary feelings of pain of bereavements and usually, no medication or counseling is necessary.
Grief describes how a person experiences loss. Usually, the grieving individual reacts spiritually and emotionally to the loss. However, the person can also exhibit physical symptoms to the loss. The grieving period differs from one person to the other. For example, whereas some people can grief for a few months, others take years to overcome the loss.
Complicated grief refers to the abnormal reaction of a person following the death of a loved one. It may entail undiminished longing for the dead individual or a general inability to function. Other responses include a total loss of past positive world-views or beleifs (Boelen & van den Bout, 2005). The person undergoing complicated grief feels as though his/her entire life has been completely shattered.
Prolonged grief is normally characterized by a pattern of heightened and relentless distress after a loss. The person experiences emotional and physical , as well as a persistent yearning to be reunited with the dead person.
Traumatic grief comes about when an individual loses a loved one under traumatic conditions, such as an act of terrorism, natural disaster, or mass murder (Boelen & van den Bout, 2012). Such traumatic events are often sudden and may involve mutilation and violent suffering.
In this kind of grief, the grieving individual finds it hard to express his/her loss in public because the loss may not be acknowledged by society. In other words, the ‘grieving rules’ ascribed by society hinders the grieving process (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). There are three key ways through which disenfranchised grief occurs:
- In case the relationship that the dead and the living shared is not socially recognized, such as a lesbian or gay relationships.
- The loss is either hidden from others, or is not socially recognized. Hidden losses might include the loss of a pet or an abortion, while perinatal loss represents losses that are not socially recognized.
A primary loss refers to the initial loss suffered, such as the loss of one’s health or death (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
This refers to the other losses suffered due to the primary loss. For example, when someone close to you dies, his/her death might trigger other loses, such as loss of companionship, lost dreams and hopes, or lost joy of growing old together as a couple (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
An ambiguous loss lacks clarity, thereby making it hard to assess the extent of the loss. It is also unclear whether the loss ought to elicit deep emotional response. Examples of ambiguous losses include perinatal death and the death of a pet (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
Mourning is a period of intense and deep sadness over the death of a loved one. It is synonymous with grief (Boelen & van den Bout, 2005). Mourning describes the cultural activities that the bereaved take part in, including the mode of dressing and behavior.
American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
Boelen, P. A., & van den Bout, J. (2005). Complicated Grief, Depression, and Anxiety as Distinct Postloss Syndromes: A Confirmatory Factor Analysis Study. Am J Psychiatry, 162, 2175-2177.
Boelen, P. A., & van den Bout, J. (2012). Coping with Grief and Loss: Support for Grieving and Bereavement. Web.