|Other encyclopedia topics:||A-Ag Ah-Ap Aq-Az B-Bk Bl-Bz C-Cg Ch-Co Cp-Cz D-Di Dj-Dz E-Ep Eq-Ez F G H-Hf Hg-Hz I-In Io-Iz J K L-Ln Lo-Lz M-Mf Mg-Mz N O P-Pl Pm-Pz Q R S-Sh Si-Sp Sq-Sz T-Tn To-Tz U V W X Y Z 0-9|
|Contents of this page:|
Alternative NamesMourning; Grieving; Bereavement
Definition Return to top
Grief is a reaction to a major loss. It is most often an unhappy and painful emotion.
Causes Return to top
Grief may be triggered by the death of a loved one. People also can experience grief if they have an illness for which there is no cure, or a chronic condition that affects their quality of life. The end of a significant relationship may also cause a grieving process.
Everyone feels grief in their own way. However, there are certain stages to the process of mourning. It starts with recognizing a loss and continues until a person eventually accepts that loss. People's responses to grief will be different, depending on the circumstances of the death.
For example, if the person who died had a chronic illness, the death may have been expected. The end of the person's suffering might even have come as a relief. If the death was accidental or violent, coming to a stage of acceptance could take longer.
Symptoms Return to top
There can be five stages of grief. These reactions might not occur in a specific order, and can (at times) occur together. Not everyone experiences all of these emotions:
People who are grieving may have crying spells, some trouble sleeping, and lack of productivity at work.
Exams and Tests Return to top
The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms, including sleep and appetite. Symptoms that last for a while may lead to clinical depression.
Treatment Return to top
Family and friends can offer emotional support during the grieving process. Sometimes outside factors can affect the normal grieving process, and people might need help from:
The acute phase of grief usually lasts up to 2 months. Some milder symptoms may last for a year or longer. Psychological counseling may help a person who is unable to face the loss (absent grief reaction), or who has depression with grieving.
Support Groups Return to top
You can help the stress of grieving by joining a support group where members share common experiences and problems.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
It may take a year or longer to overcome strong feelings of grief, and to accept the loss.
Possible Complications Return to top
Grief and loss can affect your overall health. It can lead to depression or excessive alcohol or drug use. Grief that lasts for more than two months and is severe enough to interfere with daily life may be a sign of more serious illness, such as major depression. Medication may be helpful.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if:
Prevention Return to top
Grief should not be prevented because it is a healthy response to loss. Instead, it should be respected. Those who are grieving should have support to help them through the process.
References Return to top
Moore DP, Jefferson JW. Secondary Depression. In: Moore & Jefferson: Handbook of Medical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby; 2004:chap 161.
Shuchter SR, Zisook S. Grief and Mourning. In: Jacobson JL, Jacobson AM. Jacobson: Psychiatric Secrets. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Hanley and Belfus;2001:chap 32.Update Date: 5/26/2008 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Timothy A. Rogge, MD, private practice in Psychiatry, Kirkland, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.