What Is Grief?
Grief is a natural response to loss or death that involves a range of emotions, including sadness and loneliness. The causes of grief can be a significant and unexpected event involving loss, ranging from the end of a relationship to the death of a loved one.
The signs of grief can vary from person to person, but they typically include physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms. For example, a person who is grieving may experience fatigue, difficulty sleeping, headaches, weakness and changes in appetite.
Although grief and mourning are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different concepts. Grief is an internal process of thoughts and feelings. Mourning, however, represents the outward behaviors that result from grief, such as talking about memories or expressing emotions. There is no perfect way to grieve, but grieving tends to follow a pattern that helps a person to process and overcome loss.
Stages of Grief
The five stages of grief are a general framework of how many people experience the grieving process. While the grief cycle may apply to some people, psychiatrists believe that people may move back and forth between these stages or in different orders, depending on their experience and culture.
The stages of grief include:
There are several different grief models used to help understand the process of grieving. Although the traditional 5-step model of grief may represent some experiences, other models offer different interpretations.
The dual process model of grief involves two categories, including the feeling of loss and the process of reorientation. In this model, people who are grieving can move between these two modes of functioning. This means that a person may alternate between processing emotions and making adjustments to their new reality or identity.
The task model of grief is another model, which suggests that grief is a process involving four tasks:
- Accepting the reality of loss
- Processing pain or grief
- Adjusting to a world without the person
- Finding new connection while continuing life
According to this model, the completion of these tasks allows a person to return to living a meaningful and fulfilling life. This model differs slightly from the traditional five stages of grief, but it is similar in that there is no set timeline or pattern.