Grief is the multi-faceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something to which we have formed a bond of attachment. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioural, social, and philosophical dimensions. Common to human experience is the death of a loved one, whether it be a friend, family, or other companion. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement often refers to the state of loss, and grief to the reaction to loss.
Losses can range from loss of loved ones to the loss of pets. Our response to loss is varied, influenced by personality, family, culture, and spiritual and religious beliefs and practices.
Bereavement, while a normal part of life, carries a degree of risk when limited support is available. Severe reactions to loss may carry over into familial relations and cause trauma for children, spouses and any other family members: there is an increased risk of marital breakup following the death of a child, for example. Issues of personal faith and beliefs may also face challenge, as bereaved persons reassess personal definitions in the face of great pain.
While many who grieve are able to work through their loss independently, accessing additional support from bereavement professionals may promote the process of healing. Grief counseling, professional support groups or educational classes, and peer-led support groups are primary resources available to the bereaved.