Grief and Bereavement

Grief is the acute pain that accompanies loss. Because it is a reflection of what we love, it can feel all-encompassing. Grief is not limited to the loss of people, but when it follows the loss of a loved one, it may be compounded by feelings of guilt and confusion, especially if the relationship was a difficult one.

Bereavement is the state of loss when someone close to an individual has died.

 

The death of a loved one is one of the greatest sorrows that can occur in one's life. People's responses to grief will vary depending upon the circumstances of the death, but grief is a normal, healthy response to loss. Feelings of bereavement can also accompany other losses, such as the decline of one's health or the health of a close other, or the end of an important relationship.


The bereaved may experience crying spells, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, or lack of productivity at work. At first, one may find it hard to accept that the loss has actually occurred. Feelings of anger may also arise. The anger may be directed toward doctors and nurses, God, other loved ones, oneself, or even the person who has died.

 

The grieving person may experience feelings of guilt, with sentiments such as "I should have…", "I could have…", or "I wish I had…" Emotions may be very intense, and the bereaved person may have mood swings. These are all normal reactions to loss.

Depression

The mood disorder may descend seemingly out of the blue, or it may come on the heels of a defeat or personal loss, producing persistent feelings of sadness, worthlessness, hopelessness, helplessness, pessimism, or guilt. Depression also interferes with concentration, motivation, and other aspects of everyday functioning.

 

Depression is a complex disorder, involving many systems of the body, including the immune system, either as cause or effect. It disrupts sleep and it interferes with appetite; in some cases, it causes weight loss; in others, it contributes to weight gain.


Because of its complexity, a full understanding of depression has been elusive. But depression involves mood and thoughts as well as the body, and it causes pain for both those living with the disorder and those who care about them. Even in the most severe cases, depression is highly treatable. The condition is often cyclical, and early treatment may prevent or forestall recurrent episodes.