Personal Loss Psychology: Bereavement and Grief

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Topic: Psychology
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Bereavement

Bereavement refers to a state of mourning someone who has died, which is usually characterized by intense emotional pain (Boss, 2006). It is an important process of coming into terms with the demise of a loved one.

Grief is experienced in several forms that include mental, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual reactions. Common reactions that accompany bereavement include loss of appetite, irregular sleep patterns, sadness, anxiety, and crying. Examples of bereavement include death of a parent, friend, spouse, or sibling.

Uncomplicated bereavement

Uncomplicated bereavement refers to a normal reaction due to loss of a loved one that is characterized by sadness, confusion, and emotional turmoil. The severity of the reaction depends mainly on the relationship between the victim and the deceased. It lasts for a short time. The most severe effects are experienced during the first few months after the demise of an individual.

Grief

Grief refers to emotional, physical, spiritual, social, and psychological reaction elicited by the loss of a loved one (Boss, 2006). The process of grieving comprises four main stages that include shock and denial, concern, despair and depression, and recovery. The despair and depression stage is the longest and most painful stage that affects victims’ lives adversely.

Complicated grief

Complicated grief is a type of grief that lasts for a long period and affects victims’ lives negatively (Wright, 2007). Many individuals experience grief after the loss of their loved ones.

Individuals who experience complicated grief get stuck with the pain of loss and always require professional support to enable them move on (Boss, 2006). Victims possess the awareness that people dear to them are gone but they find it difficult to believe and move on. The minds of victims are crowded with the images, memories, and thoughts of the deceased (Stets & Turner, 2008).

Prolonged grief

Prolonged grief is a type of grief whose symptoms linger for an extended period. It is another term used in the place of complicated grief (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2007). Individuals get stuck with past memories that prevent them from executing daily tasks effectively.

Traumatic grief

This refers to a type of grief characterized by intense emotional pain that prevents individuals from living their daily lives properly (Wright, 2007).

Traumatic grief strains the relationships of victims and affects their careers negatively. In severe cases, individuals succumb to depression. Symptoms of traumatic grief include excessive irritability, hopelessness, intense fear and anxiety, strong feelings of guilt, bitterness, and insomnia (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2007). Victims are usually consumed with the thoughts and memories of their loved ones.

Disenfranchised grief

Disenfranchised grief refers to a type of grief that is unacceptable in society and therefore cannot be overtly expressed (Wright, 2007). Victims suffer silently because of the fear of grieving openly. For instance, the loss of a pet, loss of a home, and an aborted pregnancy are examples of events that lead to disenfranchised grief (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2007). On the other hand, situations that are usually associated with social discrimination can cause this type of grief.

Primary loss

Primary loss results from the loss of a loved one, job, opportunity, or identity. It emanates mainly from an event that leads to loss of someone or something dear (Wright, 2007). For instance, losing a parent or sibling is a primary loss that causes pain and suffering. Primary losses are the main causes of secondary losses.

Secondary loss

Secondary loss results from primary loss and has severe consequences on victims. For instance, the loss of a parent might result in the loss of income in case the parent was the family’s sole breadwinner. In that case, the loss of income is a secondary loss that emanates from the loss of a parent (primary loss). Secondary losses can have far-reaching consequences on the lives of victims because they can cause significant changes in roles and relationships.

Ambiguous loss

This refers to a type of loss that takes place without the full comprehension as to why it happened or whether things will change for the better in future (Kubler-Ross & Kessler, 2007). Victims of ambiguous loss search incessantly for answers to several questions that are aimed at demystifying their loss (Wright, 2007).

For instance, diagnosis of infertility and the sudden disappearance of a loved one are ambiguous losses because victims try to find answers to resolve them. It prevents closure and prevents individuals from living normal lives. Therapy is an effective method of helping victims move one with their lives. There are two types of ambiguous loss namely type 1 and type 2. Type 1 loss occurs when a loved one is physically present but psychologically absent through memories and thoughts (Wright, 2007).

In contrast, type 2 loss occurs when an individual is present physically but absent psychologically due to factors such as a chronic disease and addiction (Wright, 2007). For instance, an individual suffering from clinical depression is physically present but psychologically absent.

Mourning

This refers to the act of expressing sorrow as a way of overcoming the loss of a loved one (Stets & Turner, 2008). Different cultures have varied ways of mourning such as wearing dark clothes, observing silence for a certain period, wailing uncontrollably, and fasting.

References

Boss, P. (2006). Loss, Trauma, and Resilience: Therapeutic Work with Ambiguous Loss. New York: W. W. Norton.

Kubler-Ross, E., & Kessler, D. (2007). On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Stets, J. E., & Turner, J. H. (2008). Handbook of the Sociology of Emotions. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.

Wright, B. (2007). Loss and Grief. New York: M&K Update Ltd.