What is the Difference Between Grief, Bereavement, and Mourning?
Updated: Mar 4
Grief, bereavement, and mourning are often used interchangeably, but the subtle differences in the meanings of these terms are important and indicative of where we are on our journey of learning to live with loss.
To put it simply, grief refers to our reaction to loss. More specifically, the word, grief, encompasses all the initial, instinctual responses to a perceived loss. Common manifestations of normal grief are experienced psychologically, physically, behaviorally, and cognitively.
Common Manifestations of Normal Grief
For many, grief can also reflect an intense spiritual searching for a sense of meaning, anger towards God or higher power, and feelings of inadequacy in coping with the loss.
The chart above does not represent an exhaustive list of the many signs of grief. It is also important to note that no two people grieve in the same way, and an individual’s experience and expression of grief don’t always match up.
Grief certainly disrupts our internal and external balance. It threatens our sense of identity and well-being. It brings to mind our own mortality and recalls our past losses. Nevertheless, as uncomfortable as it can be, reacting and responding to loss is a healthy, necessary process.
Bereavement: State of Being
Although the term, bereavement, generally implies that someone close to us has died, it simply refers to the state of having suffered a loss – any loss. It is the objective reality of loss. For the person having experienced a loss, bereavement must include two essential elements:
1. having a relationship with someone or attachment to something
2. being separated from or deprived of someone or something
We can be bereaved without an acute grief reaction or significant period of mourning.
Where are you on your journey of learning to live with loss? Source: Wix Media