Personal Loss: Grief and Bereavement

Subject: Other Medical Specialties
Pages: 6
Words: 704
Reading time:
3 min


Bereavement is defined as the period an individual experiences a feeling of sorrow and sadness due to the death of their close person such as a significant other (Walsh, 2008). Bereavement is very individual and differs from a person to person based on their personal qualities.

Uncomplicated bereavement

Having experienced a loss of a loved one, people suffer from uncomplicated bereavement that includes such symptoms as the feeling of sadness, not knowing how to live without the deceased person, longing, crying, loss of sleep or appetite (Walsh, 2008). Uncomplicated bereavement is a difficult but temporary stage.


The term grief is used inconsistently and sometimes is interchanged with bereavement (Zisook & Shear, 2009). Grief is associated with the emotional component of bereavement. Uncomplicated grief includes a variety of contradictory emotions such as pain, joy, relief, and depression.

Complicated grief

Grief becomes complicated when an individual suffering from bereavement also had had symptoms that made them vulnerable even before the loss of a loved one occurred (Zisook & Shear, 2009). In such cases, grief may result in further psychiatric complications that are characterized as complicated grief.

Prolonged grief

Prolonged grief is the one that keeps happening on a long-term basis. An individual suffering from this kind of grief experiences an inability to get on with their life without the lost close person, their daily functions are incapacitated (Types of Grief: Yes, there’s more than one, 2013).

Traumatic grief

When standard responses to grief are accompanied by traumatic distress, grief becomes complicated with such feelings as horror and fear. Traumatic grief is extremely shocking and can impair the griever’s daily life functions (Types of Grief: Yes, there’s more than one, 2013).

Disenfranchised grief

Grief becomes disenfranchised when the griever’s community invalidates their bereavement (for example, when the death is judged due to social stigmas such as suicide, substance overdose, or when the loss is deemed insignificant such as the loss of a pet or a miscarriage) (Types of Grief: Yes, there’s more than one, 2013). Another reason for disenfranchised is the loss of a partner from a stigmatized relationship (same-sex partnership, a partner from an extramarital relationship).

Primary loss

Primary loss is associated with the initial event such as the death of a close person. Primary loss serves as the source of a variety of emotions and feelings and often causes a chain reaction of events leading to a secondary loss.

Secondary loss

The secondary loss is associated with the emotional and physical outcomes one may experience as the result of the loss of a loved one. For example, a death of a significant other creates a secondary loss of partnership and companionship, loneliness, and in some cases may lead to loss of income or social status. The secondary loss does not result from the death of a close person only. It also may be caused by other stressful events such as child abuse, violence, a disaster of some kind. In these cases, secondary loss signifies the loss of comfort, security, and the inability to return to the previous lifestyle.

Ambiguous loss (two types)

The ambiguous loss is often questioned due to its unclear character. The first type of ambiguous loss occurs when a close person is physically missing but may not be dead (for example, kidnapping, divorce, missing after a natural cataclysm, or a child given up for adoption). The second type of ambiguous loss is the loss of a close person due to psychological but not physical reasons (mental illness, drug addiction, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease) qualifies as ambiguous loss as well.


Is a psychological process that normally occurs right after a loss and is associated with several stages such as numbness (the undesired to accept the loss of a loved one, ignoring the reality), protest (yearning and longing for the lost person often accompanied by depressive syndrome), disorganization (incapacitated daily life functions, inability to move on with life without the bereaved close person), and detachment (a gradual coping with the loss, resulting in the ability of the mourner to move on without the deceased close one). The term mourning also refers to the rituals of saying “goodbye” to the dead people such as funerals; they may look different in various cultures.

Reference List

Health Resources and Services Administration. (n. d.). Starting a Rural Health Clinic – A How-To Manual. Web.

NACHC. (2011). So You Want to Start a Health Center…? Web.

Types of Grief: Yes, there’s more than one. (2013). Web.

Vickery, C. G. (2015). Planning Clinics for Flexibility and Adaptability. Web.

Walsh, H.C. (2008) Caring for bereaved people 2: nursing management. Nursing Times, 104(1), 32–33.

Zisook, S., & Shear, K. (2009). Grief and bereavement: what psychiatrists need to know. World Psychiatry, 8(2), 67-74.