Mallon (2008) says that bereavement is the period that a mourner mourns the death of a loved one. It is the normal reaction to the loss or death of a loved one. This period often manifests as an emotional, social or physical event. In extreme cases, it manifests as an outburst (Mallon, 2008). In some people, it could manifest as a mental condition characterized by guilt, anxiety, or despair. The period of bereavement often depends on several factors, such as the relationship between a person and the departed one, or the nature of death (MedicineNet, Inc., 2015).
Uncomplicated grief often happens when a person grieves, but still performs normal and daily functions (Mallon, 2008). This means that the subject moves towards integrated grief over time (MedicineNet, Inc., 2015). People who experience uncomplicated grief also experience periods of acute grief (MedicineNet, Inc., 2015). Such episodes are temporary, but as the period after death increases, the subject could still participate in activities that characterize normal life.
Mallon (2008) defines grief as the overwhelming sense of sadness arising from the loss of a loved one. However, Mallon (2008) adds that such a feeling could also emerge from the diagnosis of a terminal condition. Many psychologists agree that there is no right way of grieving, or healing, from such a period of an emotional slump (MedicineNet, Inc., 2015).
Complicated grief differs from the above definition of grief based on the period one takes to grieve and the intensity of the grief (MedicineNet, Inc., 2015). Complicated grief often takes a long time to overcome and is often more intense than the “normal” grief (Mallon, 2008).
Prolonged grief is almost similar to complicated grief, except that time characterizes it as opposed to the intensity of grief. In this regard, prolonged grief often occurs for a longer time than what people culturally or personally expect. Some experts consider it a disorder (Mallon, 2008).
For a long time, there has been extensive literature on grief and bereavement (MedicineNet, Inc., 2015; Cantwell-Bartl, 2015). Traumatic grief is a new area of study that seeks to improve this literature. Traumatic grief often emerges when a person suffers from both grief and trauma. Relative to this fact, Cantwell-Bartl (2015) says
“If people are grieving and experiencing separation anxiety, the symptoms will consist of yearning, searching and loneliness. When there is concurrent traumatic distress the person will also be experiencing numbness, disbelief, distrust, anger and a sense of futility about the future” (p. 1).
Disenfranchised grief comes from the lack of social acceptance of loss (Mallon, 2008). People who experience this type of grief cannot express it, share it or talk about it for fear of social rebuke (Mallon, 2008). For example, a mistress who has been having an affair with a married man, and the man dies, may fail to express or share her loss because of social rebuke.
A primary loss often occurs as the initial loss following the death of a loved one (Grief Journey, 2015). For example, if a family loses the father, the loss of the person is the primary loss in the family. This type of loss is often the primary instigator of grief.
Secondary loss is equally important as a primary loss. However, it is a product of the primary loss (Grief Journey, 2015). For example, if a married woman loses her husband through death, the loss of a companion and crushed hopes and dreams of living together into old age are secondary losses. Comparatively, the death of the husband is the primary loss.
Ambiguous losses often occur when a person feels stuck or unable to overcome grief (Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, 2011). There are two main types of ambiguous loss. They appear below:
- First Type: This first type of ambiguous loss occurs when a person is physically absent, but psychologically present as described above (Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, 2011). Classical examples of this loss occur when disasters happen, but there is no physical evidence of dead bodies (Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, 2011).
- Second Type: The second type of ambiguous loss occurs when a person is physically present but psychologically missing (Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, 2011). Classical examples of this loss occur when people suffer from chronic conditions, such as AIDS, or lifelong diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Drug addicts may also cause this loss to their family members (Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, 2011).
Feelings of grief often lead to mourning. The process occurs when people express their internal feelings of loss (Mallon, 2008). Grief differs from mourning based on this fact. Stated differently, grief is an internal expression of loss, while mourning is an outward expression of loss (MedicineNet, Inc., 2015). Culturally accepted practices may help affected families to understand what the mourning process entails. This process also helps them to have a structure of what to expect or feel in a confusing period (Mallon, 2008).
Cantwell-Bartl, A. (2015). Is This Person Suffering Grief or Trauma or Traumatic Grief? Web.
Grief Journey. (2015). Understanding Grief: Distinguishing between Primary and Secondary Loss. Web.
Mallon, B. (2008). Dying, Death and Grief: Working with Adult Bereavement. London, UK: SAGE.
MedicineNet, Inc. (2015). Loss, Grief, and Bereavement. Web.
Wendt Center for Loss and Healing. (2011). Different Ways to Grieve. Web.