Losing something or someone you love can be very painful and disorienting. Sadness, anger, numbness, and despair are common reactions and grieving can take time, patience, and careful attention. It may no longer be possible to live the life you have known, but it is possible to learn to honor your loss while living with greater meaning and purpose. Depending on your situation you may find support from friends, family, a spiritual counselor, or a therapist.
What is bereavement?
Bereavement is a state of loss resulting from the death a beloved person or animal.
What is grief?
Grief is the most common emotional reaction to bereavement or another form of loss. Research shows that the process of grieving varies a lot between people and there is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. Healthy coping involves learning to fully experience your loss and grief, honoring your relationship with the deceased, and making adjustments to continue investing in a meaningful life.
What is loss?
Loss occurs when something or someone or something you value is taken away. There are many ways to experience loss, including through bereavement, divorce, moving to a new city, the ending of a friendship, losing health, or losing a job. The more significant the loss, the greater the grief.
What is mourning?
Mourning is the process of adapting to life following a loss. Mourning is the expression of grief through behavior, including private or personal expressions, public religious or cultural practices, and the customs for expressing grief that are shared by your friends, family, and community. It can be a time to fully acknowledge the depth of your loss, and to learn to meet your pain and the pain of others with dignity, honesty, respect, and compassion.
When does grief become depression?
One of the most common triggers for depression is experiencing a loss. People who experience chronic depression often have had losses early in their life that continue to affect them to this day. More episodic depression is often triggered by experiences of loss, such as a change in your health status (the loss of your previous good health), a divorce (including the loss of hopes and dreams for the relationship), the death of a loved one, or losing a job, among many other possible losses. It’s normal to experience periods of sadness and other intense emotions after losses. However, if the sadness becomes very chronic, lasting for weeks with very little relief, then it’s possible that you have gotten stuck and may have progressed into depression. If you seem to be stuck in the sadness of your loss for many months afterwards and unable to move one or feeling disconnected from the world, uninterested in things you used to be, and disengaged from your relationships, you may have progressed into depression and may want to consider getting therapy.
Additional information about grief and loss:
- Common reactions to bereavement and loss
- What are grief counseling and grief therapy
- When to seek professional help for loss and bereavement