Personal Loss: Bereavement and Grief

Grief and bereavement are responses to personal loss. According to Witcutt (2006), “personal loss results from the death of a person or after losing something precious”. There are different behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and feelings that come with grief (Young & Dowling, 2012). Although grief is an emotional response to loss, sometimes it portrays spiritual, social, physical, and behavioral dimensions. The terms below are critical towards understanding personal loss.


Yong and Dowling (2012) define bereavement as “the period of pain, grief, and mourning after the death of a beloved person or animal”. Theorists categorize bereavement into two groups. The two groups are complicated and uncomplicated bereavement.

Complicated Bereavement

Complicated bereavement is complex and depends on several factors such as a person’s personality and age. More often than not, complicated bereavement affects close relatives after the death of a beloved person. “Complicated bereavement takes long before the affected person leads a normal life (Witcutt, 2006)”.

Uncomplicated Bereavement

As the term suggests, uncomplicated bereavement is a short period of mourning whereby the affected people experiences shock. However, “the person adjusts to the situation and moves on with life (Witcutt, 2006)”.


According to Witcutt (2006), “grief is the immediate response to personal loss”. The affected person undergoes emotional pain and suffering after the death of a beloved person. The major types of grief are discussed below.

Complicated Grief

Complicated grief occurs when normal grief persists. “Complicated grief includes extended feelings and behaviors to the loss of a loved person (Young & Dowling, 2012)”. The reactions fail to subside and might occur for a long period.

Prolonged Grief

This kind of grief is usually prolonged. The survivor experiences prolonged depression and withdrawal (Witcutt, 2006). The individual might experience depression for a long time.

Traumatic Grief

This kind of grief overwhelms the individual and might eventually result in suicidal thoughts. The grief is usually extreme or prolonged. According to Young and Dowling (2012), “traumatic grief can affect a physically or psychologically”.

Disenfranchised Grief

On the other hand, disenfranchised grief occurs when a loss has taken place but the affected persons cannot acknowledge it publicly (Young & Dowling, 2012).


Personal loss occurs after the death of a friend, parent, or relative. Loss can also occur after the death of an animal or after losing a treasured item (Witcutt, 2006). There are different types of loss as presented below.

Primary Loss

According to Heegaard (2002), “primary loss occurs after the death of a close relative or friend”. This kind of death results in prolonged grief and bereavement. “However, the response to primary loss depends on different factors such as age, culture, personality, religion, and relationship with the dead person or animal (Witcutt, 2006)”. This kind of loss occurs after the death of a person.

Secondary Loss

Heegard (2002) states that secondary loss is “real” and can have disastrous effects on a person”. This kind of loss mainly results from death. Secondary loss makes individuals hopeless and unaware of their role or unable to live again.

Ambiguous Loss

There are two types of ambiguous loss. The first type occurs after the loss of a family member or relative thus making the person feel stuck. The people will find it hard to move on with mourning and grieving. The loss makes it hard for people to have answers to the issues facing them (Heegaard, 2002). The second type of ambiguous loss occurs when a person loses a beloved one physically. However, such people remain in their hearts or minds. The people do not accept the fact that there has been a loss through death.


Finally, “mourning describes the complex behaviors and practices portrayed by individuals after a loss (Heegard, 2002)”. The word describes the entire process of grieving (Witcutt, 2006). There are different customs and behaviors practiced by individuals during mourning.


Heegaard, M. (2002). Grief: A Natural Reaction to Loss. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Witcutt, A. (2006). Grief and Bereavement: Some Reflections on Personal Loss. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Young, C. & Dowling, T. (2012). Parents and Bereavement: A Personal and Professional Exploration. New York: John Wiley and Sons.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Personal Loss: Bereavement and Grief." November 8, 2023.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Personal Loss: Bereavement and Grief." November 8, 2023.


PsychologyWriting. "Personal Loss: Bereavement and Grief." November 8, 2023.