Bereavement is the objective situation that people face after experiencing a loss of an important individual through death. For instance, it may involve a number of mental reactions such as a feeling of guilt, excessive anger, and despair. Physical reactions may include insomnia, loss of appetite, and illnesses.
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In most people, normal grief is portrayed, with a simple grief period experienced before ceasing within a few days or weeks. However, in some instances, acute grief may gain position and become a chronic condition that worsens with time. Instead of experiencing the normal recovery process, the individuals may develop debilitating mental conditions that increasingly affect the mental, physical and social health of the individual (Therese & Rando, 2011).
This is the normal process of responding to a major loss, especially through death or diagnosis with terminal illnesses such as cancer. The duration of the response reaction depends on the degree of the suddenness of the loss, the stage of the physical condition of the demised person, or the relationship between the deceased and the person left behind. In normal instances, grief lasts for about one year, with the most severe symptoms occurring within the first 2 to 4 months after the loss (Forstmeier & Maercker, 2009). In some instances, people do not develop the condition, and diagnosis is not necessary until the symptoms prevail. The symptoms of uncomplicated bereavement include confusion, numbness, shock, guilt, and sadness.
An individual endures the emotional suffering after realizing that a close person or object has been taken away and the probability of returning is zero. The number of factors determine how an individual behaves. For instance, a number of personal factors determine an individual’s degree of grief, including the ability to cope with the shock, past experiences with similar or related situations, and the nature of the loss.
Complicated grief tends to take over the life of an individual in terms of holding the mind, making the person feel “stuck” to the loss. There is evidence of traumatic grief that features conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (Boerner, Schulz & Horowitz, 2008). There is a painful yearning of the presence of the deceased. The stage of denial of the loss is prolonged.
Prolonged grief is a disorder that results from a lengthy period of complicated grief. This syndrome consists of a number of symptoms following the loss of a loved person through death. The symptoms are so prolonged and intense that they tend to exceed the expected degree of cultural as well as individual variability. The individual becomes incapacitated by focusing on the loss. The patient cannot care about self or someone else. The consequences include the increase in the rates of ideations and attempts of suicide, dysfunction of some body systems such as the immune system, cardiac problems and abnormal social behavior.
A loss of an important and close person through a sudden death result into traumatic grief. The conditions and circumstances leading to death are particularly important in developing this type of grief. For instance, deaths that take place without a warning do not provide an opportunity to prepare and anticipate the loss. In addition, the death of a minor due to violence or harm to the body or a death in which the body is not recovered is likely to lead to traumatic grief. In addition, multiple deaths or death due to willful misconduct of others, negligence or other forms of carelessness results in traumatic grief because there is a feeling that something could have been done to avoid the loss (Currier, Holland & Neimeyer, 2012).
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The loss of other things apart from a loved person causes disenfranchised grief. For instance, the events leading to the loss of an object such as a home or place of residence, a pet, an animal or loss of a fetus through abortion or miscarriage are likely to cause disenfranchised grief.
A primary loss results from the actual event that causes death or injury. For example, a survivor of severe brain injury feels loss due to the impact of the injury. It includes a number of symptoms such as change of personality, physical and cognitive problems.
On the other hand, secondary loss originates from the primary loss. It is the consequence of the primary loss. For example, a brain injury leads to the loss of activities, income and ability to lead a normal life.
In this case, there is no certainty that the individual will come back or resume the normal position.
Type one: In this case, a feeling of loss occurs because an individual is physically absent, but remains within the minds of the bereaved. In the second type, a feeling of loss occurs because an individual is physically present, but his state of mind is not present due to injuries or brain diseases. The person is physically present but cognitively missing due to loss of brain activity such as in cases of dementia.
It is a set of cultural behaviors exemplified in a given community after the death of an individual. It includes various behaviors and attitudes such as wearing black clothes, weeping and visiting the bereaved family.
Boerner, K., Schulz, R., & Horowitz, A. (2008). Positive aspects of caregiving and adaptation to bereavement. Psychol Aging 19(4), 668–675.
Currier, J. M., Holland, J. M., & Neimeyer, R. A. (2012). Sense-making, grief, and the experience of violent loss: Toward a meditational model. Death Stud, 30(3), 403–428.
Forstmeier, S., & Maercker, A. (2009). Comparison of two diagnostic systems for complicated grief. J Affect Disord 99(2), 203–211.
Therese, A., & Rando, P. (2011). How to go on living when someone you love dies. New York: Lexington Books.