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Grief, Bereavement, and Mourning FAQs

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

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Q:Is grief a normal reaction?

A:Yes. Grief is a normal emotional reaction to loss. There are no limits, boundaries, or rules in terms of loss or what could be considered a loss. Grief involves emotional pain that varies by individual and loss. Grief may be especially burdensome in response to a loss that was traumatic, sudden, or severe.

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Q:Mourning and grief are the same. True or False?

A:False. While grief is described as an emotional response to loss, mourning involves outwardly expressing loss or any activity associated with loss as part of adaptation to it. For example, a funeral is an activity that expresses mourning. Mourning may or may not be as formal as a funeral, though it is important to note that grief and mourning of some sort are generally associated.

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Q:Anger is an unusual response to grief. True or False?

A:False. Anger is a normal part of grieving. In fact, it is not unusual for people to experience a range of emotions as part of the healing process. One who has experienced loss may also experience denial, numbness, shock, remorse, guilt, depression, despair, loneliness, anger, and acceptance. It is important to note that there is no specific order of stages in which to grieve and that grief is not limited to the emotional behaviors mentioned here. Additionally, it is possible and likely that a grieving person will encounter all, some, or none of these behaviors, and/or may vacillate among them. The range of emotions and behaviors incurred throughout the grieving process serves as bargaining tools for sufferer to cope with and acknowledge the reality of the loss that has occurred.

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Q:Who has more difficulty dealing with major loss?

A:Grieving children. Grieving children do not experience the same response to loss as adults and may not show their feelings as readily or openly. It is not unusual for children to express brief or occasional responses to grief, but the reality is that children have greater difficulty than adults managing emotional responses to grief and trauma. In truth, because children grieve longer than adults, children in mourning require frequent assessment, discussion, and acknowledgement of their feelings over time.

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Q:What is bereavement?

A:Grief, mourning and deprivation. Bereavement is the state of experiencing grief, mourning, and deprivation as the result of a loss, usually death.

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Q:What is anticipatory grief?

A:Grief for an upcoming loss event. Anticipatory grief is a reaction to an upcoming, impending, or expected loss event. It can be an important part of the grieving process and can help a person sort out emotions in preparation for the loss. Remember, everyone grieves differently, and anticipatory grief may not necessarily lessen grief or shorten the grieving process.

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Q:Should a grieving person minimize feelings?

A:No. Minimizing one's feelings may actually hinder the grief and healing process that is natural following a loss. Other avoidance behaviors can include thrusting oneself into work; self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, or other substances; compulsive patterns and behavior, and/or avoiding emotions.

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Q:Crying can help resolve grief. True or False?

A:True. It's alright to cry. For a grieving person, crying is a healthy, natural release as part of the grieving process. If you or someone you know is grieving, it may help to.. - Experience thoughts and feelings openly through writing, journaling - Speak openly with other family members who suffered the same loss - Accept and allow a range of emotions - Seek professional help for overwhelming feelings or trouble returning to daily activities over time

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