Crisis Intervention – Learning to Live With Unresolved Grief


The term bereavement is defined as a time of sorrow, especially after the demise of someone close such as a spouse. It is an impartial state of deprivation that usually occurs as a result of death, and is commonly escorted by grief. There are two types of bereavement; include the individual’s own adjustment and the affective-cognitive relationships.

Uncomplicated bereavement

This term refers to the sequence of events that take place as a bereaved individual attempt to maneuver through a variety of activities. These activities help individuals to incorporate the reality of proceeding in life without the person they have lost. These activities include shifting from interactive relationships to recollections, accepting the reality of death, and getting over pain among others.


Grief is defined as a psychic trance of psychological anguish or emotional suffering as a consequence, or expectation of bereavement. Grief is particularly unique and multi-dimensional. It is evident in primary and secondary losses. However, even though grief is considered a general experience, there are no common agreements with regard to what grief is, and a substantial debate exists in relation to its natural duration.

Complicated grief and prolonged grief

Complicated grief is also referred to as prolonged grief. However, the latter term is predominantly used. Most individuals affected by loss and grieve do not exhibit complicated or prolonged grief. However, grief on its own does not depict mental disorders. Prolonged grief is described as a personality disorder. In contrast, some critics argue that complicated grief is the ultimate end of the process of grieving. Individuals affected by either prolonged or complicated grief are engrossed in the memories of the person who died and might experience persistent intrusive images and recollections of death. Individuals suffering from complicated grief also show prolonged grieving. This grief results in distress and impairment which can influence the physical and mental well-being of a person (James, 2013).

Traumatic grief

Traumatic grief is commonly incorporated within complicated or prolonged grief. Additionally, scholars emphasize that such individuals should have witnessed or must have been in proximity to the horrific, sudden, and untimely demise of someone they deeply loved. In such instances, the signs of PTSD relatively coincide with the grief.

Disenfranchised grief

This is a psychological state which develops when an individual has been exposed to a deep and significant attachment, suffered a loss, and is not willing to express his grief. Such individuals are not ready to accept the reality or validation of death from their relatives or friends. Additionally, some people are afraid that an overt expression of grief could adversely affect their professional and social status.

Primary and Secondary loss

Primary loss refers to the initial loss that paves the way for an individual to experience grief. This usually results from the death of a close family member. Primary loss is often the pivot that leads individuals to seek assistance from professional psychologists. Secondary loss refers to a loss that happens as a consequence of primary loss. Secondary loss is characterized by transformations in the social status, personal perceptions, and economic status of the individual. The effect of secondary loss to the individual is that it exacerbates the grief and pain resulting from the primary loss (Pomeroy & Garcia, 2009).

Ambiguous loss

Ambiguous loss refers to grief occasioned by violence and war. Ambiguous loss is divided into two categories. The first category views the individual as physically absent, but cognitively present. It is not clear whether they are alive or dead. The second category perceives the individual as physically present, but cognitively absent. This condition is witnessed in individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic psychological illnesses (Boss, 1999).


Mourning can be described as a state in which the individual’s ability to handle a loss of a loved one is impaired. The situation may involve the permanent loss of a close relative through death. It also involves the temporary separation from a loved one through hospitalization. Additionally, the outcome of the experience may be a temporary loss of psychical or mental abilities (Dattilio & Freeman, 2007).


Boss, P. (1999). Ambiguous loss: Learning to live with unresolved grief. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Dattilio, F. M., & Freeman, A. (2007). Cognitive-behavioral strategies in crisis intervention. New York: Guilford Press.

James, R. K. (2013). Crisis intervention strategies. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole.

Pomeroy, E. C., & Garcia, R. B. (2009). The grief assessment and intervention workbook: A strengths perspective. Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.

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PsychologyWriting. "Crisis Intervention - Learning to Live With Unresolved Grief." January 25, 2023.