Bereavement, Loss and Grief


Bereavement can be defined as the psychological process that affects people when they lose someone who is very dear to them (Ollendick & Schroeder, 2012, p. 59). One should keep in mind that these experiences can be familiar to individuals struggling with such difficulties as divorce or severe physical injuries that prevent them from returning to their normal lives.

Uncomplicated bereavement

It should be mentioned that people can experience loss in different ways, and they can suffer from various emotional problems. So, it is hard to say that bereavement can be uncomplicated. However, if this term is used, it refers to a person who can maintain social relations and return the usual routine (Ollendick & Schroeder, 2012, p. 59). Moreover, this individual can display empathy for the problems of others.


Grief can be described as the emotional and even physical pain caused by a significant loss (Stern, 2015, p. 428). As a rule, this response is triggered by the death of a close relative or a friend.

Complicated grief

Such a concept as complicated grief means that people are unable to return to the regular routine of their lives. Moreover, this experience is characterized by such symptoms as alienation and even thoughts about suicide. Furthermore, the person continuously thinks about the unfairness as well as the senselessness of life.

Prolonged grief

Such a notion as prolonged grief means that it takes a person much more time to overcome the feeling of loss. These individuals cannot quickly return to social life. This term is applicable if people cannot cope with this emotional pain for more than six months. In this case, the duration of bereavement is the primary diagnostic criterion that therapists take into account.

Traumatic grief

Traumatic grief is used to describe the emotional pain caused by a sudden or unexpected loss. For instance, one can mention the death of a child or a sibling. In many cases, traumatic grief produces long-term effects such as anxiety disorders, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, and so forth. As a rule, a person’s relations with friends or relatives can be impaired for a long time.

Disenfranchised grief

Disenfranchised grief is used to describe the feeling of loss that is not always recognized by other people. In this case, people are not expected to display the symptoms of grief. This concept can apply to such situations as a loss of a pet, a move to a new place of residence, abortion, and so forth. Moreover, one can also mention the experiences of women after miscarried pregnancies. Under such circumstances, people cannot discuss their experiences openly. Therefore, this type of grief can produce various adverse effects on a person. For instance, one can mention depression and anxiety. So, it is important to support these individuals.

Primary Loss

Primary loss is the “initial loss” that causes emotional pain and other symptoms associated with grief (Pomeroy & Garcia, 2008, p. 10). For instance, it is possible to refer to such events as the loss of a spouse or a child. As a rule, such tragedies profoundly transform a person’s life.

Secondary Loss

In turn, the secondary losses are caused by the primary loss. They can be described as the aftereffects of a traumatic event (Pomeroy & Garcia, 2008, p. 10). For instance, people can be deprived of confidence, income, optimism, and other things that make their lives more fulfilling. Additionally, individuals often have to adjust to new family roles. This argument is particularly relevant to single parents who lost their spouses. Moreover, people often struggle with the lack of emotional support. Secondary losses considerably intensify the sense of grief, especially if a person cannot rely on the assistance of other people.

Ambiguous Loss

Ambiguous loss is the feeling of uncertainty that is familiar to people, who lack precise knowledge about the status of their loved ones (Regan, 2011). As a rule, they do not know if their relatives or friends will ever return to them (Regan, 2011). One can distinguish two groups of ambiguous losses (Regan, 2011). One of them is caused by the physical absence of a loved person who could disappear due to various reasons such as natural disasters, military conflicts, or kidnapping. At the same time, the ambiguous loss can be caused by the psychological absence of loved people who can be affected by drug addiction, alcoholism, autism, and so forth. Such feelings are also experienced by people whose relatives are in a coma. They often cherish hopes that their loved ones will eventually return to their normal state. In many cases, ambiguous losses can be very traumatic.


Mourning can be described as a set of behaviors that a person, who experiences grief, is supposed to display. This notion can be defined as various manifestations of sorrow. For instance, an individual can show mourning by wearing certain types of clothes. Overall, this expression of grief is determined by the cultural norms adopted in the community. Additionally, it can be shaped by various religious traditions. One can say that mourning is closely related to social expectations. Overall, these notions are helpful for understanding the experiences of people who struggle with grief.

Reference List

Ollendick, T., & Schroeder, C. (2012). Encyclopedia of Clinical Child and Pediatric Psychology. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.

Pomeroy, E., & Garcia, R. (2008). The Grief Assessment and Intervention Workbook: A Strengths Perspective. New York, NY: Cengage Learning.

Regan, P. (2011). Close Relationships. New York, NY: Routledge.

Stern, T. (2015). Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. New York, NY: Elsevier Health Sciences.

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PsychologyWriting. "Bereavement, Loss and Grief." January 25, 2023.