Bereavement: Normal vs. Complicated


Bereavement is a health problem that health experts and stakeholders should examine carefully in an attempt to present powerful initiatives to deal with it. Around 10 percent of the United States population suffers from complicated grief. Those who face this mental health problem lack high-quality medical support. After analyzing the nature of complicated and normal bereavement, this paper introduces mental health and disaster counseling as evidence-based practices for empowering all affected people to overcome pain and eventually achieve their potential.

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The occurrence of trauma or any form of abuse results in prolonged periods of grief and emotional suffering. The nature of the causal event will trigger varying degrees of pain. Some of the potential risk factors for grief include miscarriage, change in lifestyle or income, divorce, injury, or presence of a terminal condition. Any form of suffering and heartache associated with the death of a close relative, partner, or friend is known as “bereavement.” The purpose of this research paper is to give a detailed analysis of bereavement and the best measures to deal with it.

Analysis of Bereavement

Bereavement is a normal and natural process through which human beings respond to the loss of a beloved relative or friend. Normal grief will occur temporarily, and the affected person will be able to lead a normal life thereafter (Solomon, 2018). However, every person will respond differently to lose. Some of the common characteristics many individuals going through bereavement exhibit include crying and sobbing, changed sleeping patterns, reduced morale, inability to concentrate, negative social interactions, and feelings of loneliness or emptiness. Normal grief will be associated with such signs and symptoms (Solomon, 2018). Under this category, victims will experience such characteristics but will return to their normal lives within a few weeks or months of experiencing loss. This means that such persons will devise superior ways of coping with their emotional pain and the absence of the deceased in their lives.

Complicated bereavement is a major health challenge since the victim will not respond to death in a normal way. In such a case, feelings of loss and discontentment tend to persist for months or even years after the event. Every affected person will not engage in his or her daily activities or lead a normal life (Linde, Treml, Steinig, Nagl, & Kersting, 2017). They will remain unhappy, withdrawn, and incapable of pursuing their goals. Other key symptoms of complicated bereavement include the inability to accept reality, engaging in self-harm behaviors, reduced self-esteem and hopelessness, episodes of rage, and failure to get rid of the thoughts of the dead person.

Statistical Analysis and Affected Populations or Groups

Although bereavement is a normal process in every person’s life, it can present various health risks or complications. A study by Linde et al. (2017) indicated that complicated one affected around 10-15 percent of citizens in the United States. This means that 85-90 percent of this country’s population will experience normal bereavement after the loss of a beloved friend or relative. Teenagers whose parents die tend to be five times more likely to experience complicated grief, thereby being at risk of developing suicidal thoughts. According to Paris, de Montigny, and Pelloso (2017), over 50 percent of individuals experiencing complicated bereavement will become withdrawn and incapable of pursuing their goals in life for many months. The majority of the persons experiencing complicated grief might have increased chances of engaging in risky behaviors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or suicidal thoughts.

Past studies have presented numerous findings regarding the nature and complexity of bereavement. For example, Solomon (2018) observed that the elderly were at a higher risk of developing complicated grief symptoms in comparison with young adults. Similarly, Solomon (2018) indicated that children between 14 and 20 years of age had a higher probability of experiencing complex symptoms associated with grief. Women and girls will also record higher cases of complicated bereavement compared to men and boys of similar ages. People with cognitive impairment will be unable to cope normally after experiencing loss. This is also the same case for individuals with low educational attainment levels. Paris et al. (2015) go further to indicate that minority groups will be affected the most by this mental health problem, especially after losing their sole breadwinners. A proper understanding of these issues can guide social workers and psychologists to provide evidence-based solutions and make it possible for all victims to achieve their potential.

Problem Statement: Bereavement as a Health Crisis

Most of the researches conducted in this field has presented diverse insights and ideas regarding the nature of bereavement. For instance, Paris et al. (2015) acknowledge that it is a normal process that might become complicated and make it impossible for all victims to achieve their goals in life. It is agreeable that any form of grief is capable of triggering negative consequences, thereby affecting the social, mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing of the victim. Although the level of grief will be different from one individual to another, the signs and symptoms might remain complicated and make it hard for every victim to lead a high-quality life.

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There are specific issues or concerns that professionals in the field of psychology have presented to analyze and address this medical problem. For instance, Thurman, Luckett, Nice, Spyrelis, and Taylor (2017) reveal that complicated bereavement is one of the leading risk factors for suicidal thoughts and poor personal hygiene. There are various medical illnesses that are associated with bereavements, such as sore throats, nightmares, depression, insomnia, anxiety, hallucinations, and identity changes. For young children, bereavement will result in poor academic performance and the inability to socialize with their friends and classmates. Those working in different companies or units will become withdrawn and be unable to complete their roles effectively. These attributes explain why bereavement is a major health crisis that requires a multifaceted approach.

Although many people are aware of these aspects associated with bereavement, there are specific gaps that call for advanced studies to understand and deal with it. Psychologists and social workers embrace the idea of continuous support and to meet the needs of many victims. They encourage them to seek the guidance of relatives and family members, liaise with their religious partners, and join social groups (Thurman et al., 2017). Talking with other people is an evidence-based practice for allowing victims to heal successfully and pursue their objectives in life. Bereavement counseling can make it possible for different victims to overcome this problem.

The above discussions reveal that there is some missing information or a gap regarding the nature of bereavement and the most appropriate measures to treat it. If stakeholders analyze these concerns from different angles, the chances are high that they will offer superior insights for understanding the nature of complicated bereavement. They can also encourage all people to address normal grief since it can result in chronic emotional suffering if ignored (Linde et al., 2017). Such an approach will offer new insights and ideas for treating or managing bereavement and ensuring that all beneficiaries eventually achieve their goals.

Proposed Intervention Strategies

As described earlier, there are various treatment procedures available to individuals who are going through complicated grief. The first model revolves around the power of continuous support. The affected individuals require guidance and empowerment from their friends and relatives. Family members can be part of the process, identify new exercises, and engage in complex activities that can make it easier for the victims to deal with emotional suffering. Past studies have indicated that such an approach will meet the changing needs of many people going through grief (Dionne-Odom et al., 2016). This practice is capable of empowering individuals who might be experiencing normal grief.

Counseling is the second strategy available to individuals who are grieving. This initiative entails the involvement of a skilled professional who offers guidance and encourages the affected person to lead a high-quality life even with the experienced loss. Dionne-Odom et al. (2016) believe that professionals should pursue this kind of practice diligently and without any hurry if positive results are to be recorded. Individuals who are at risk of developing complicated grief will not record quality health outcomes without continuous counseling. The onset of complicated bereavement means that additional resources and support systems will be needed to transform the experiences of the targeted individual.

Another practice that can make it possible for many victims to achieve their potential and lead high-quality lives is that of continuous support. This is something easily available since family members and friends should be ready to guide and encourage every affected person in order to achieve his or her goals. This kind of model creates a positive environment for sharing ideas and engaging in activities that will maximize healing (Thurman et al., 2017). There is also a need for all friends and relatives to identify crucial signs or predictors for the possibility of complicated bereavement and provide exemplary support. This framework can be expanded by introducing reading activities, hobbies, and physical exercises to get rid of stress.

The fourth practice that many professionals and stakeholders are yet to consider is that of psychotherapy. Dionne-Odom et al. (2016) indicate that this form of initiative guides professionals to identify the nature and level of grieving, thereby being in a position to provide superior ideas and approaches for overcoming suffering. The psychotherapist will embrace the power of specific initiatives and concepts that will deliver positive results. This approach is promising and capable of meeting the changing needs of individuals who are going through complicated or normal bereavement.

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The use of drug therapy is an ignored practice that can address this crisis. This happens to be the case since many professionals encourage patients who present with similar symptoms to involve their relatives and seek social support. The outcome is that many health workers fail to consider these people as patients and instead of referring them to community organizers and workers. Consequently, most of the affected persons will remain troubled and fail to succeed in life. It is necessary to indicate that none of these interventions will deliver positive results alone. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy emerges as a superior model for delivering positive results (Solomon, 2018). This framework will ensure that the needs of more grieving people are met within a short time.

Personal Understanding

The completed research indicates that human understanding of bereavement has evolved over time. For many years, people use to engage in mourning sessions and religious activities whenever grieving. Emerging ideas and concepts have empowered more victims to embrace relaxation and meditation practices since they can overcome any form of suffering. Waller et al. (2015) also indicate that bereavement can be complicated or simple depending on the relationship with the person who has died. This knowledge has become an evidence-based concept for designing superior counseling systems that might be available to the identified victim. Exercises, social support, and reading activities are powerful strategies for overcoming any form of trauma associated with bereavement. Drug therapy has also emerged as an effective practice for addressing the needs of many patients suffering from grief.


The above literature review has indicated that bereavement is a major health issue that medical experts and stakeholders should begin to study carefully and present powerful initiatives to deal with it. The study has revealed that many people face this mental health problem without receiving high-quality medical support. The affected ones include young children, girls and women, and the elderly. While the current intervention measures have continued to empower and make it possible for many people to lead high-quality lives, the use of counseling and mental health support systems can make it possible for victims to overcome the risks of complicated bereavement and eventually achieve their potential. The insights gained can also become powerful guidelines for examining this condition and proposing better interventions to address the demands of all victims.


Dionne-Odom, J. N., Azuero, A., Lyons, K. D., Hull, J. G., Prescott, A. T., Tosteson, T., … Bakitas, M. A. (2016). Family caregiver depressive symptom and grief outcomes from the ENABLE III randomized controlled trial. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 52(3), 378-385. Web.

Linde, K., Treml, J., Steinig, J., Nagl, M., & Kersting, A. (2017). Grief interventions for people bereaved by suicide: A systematic review. PLoS ONE, 12(6), e0179496. Web.

Paris, G. F., de Montigny, F., & Pelloso, S. M. (2017). Cross-cultural adaptation and validation evidence of the perinatal grief scale. Texto Contexto Enferm, 26(1), e5430015. Web.

Solomon, R. M. (2018). EMDR treatment of grief and mourning. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 15(3), 137-150.

Thurman, T. R., Luckett, B. G., Nice, J., Spyrelis, A., & Taylor, T. M. (2017). Effect of a bereavement support group on female adolescents’ psychological health: a randomised controlled trial in South Africa. Lancet Global Health, 5, e604-e614. Web.

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Waller, A., Turon, H., Mansfield, E., Clark, K., Hobden, B., & Sanson-Fisher, R. (2015). Assisting the bereaved: A systematic review of the evidence for grief counseling. Palliative Medicine, 30(2), 132-148. Web.

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