What Does Grief And Loss Mean?

What Does Grief And Loss Mean

Loss is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as “the fact or process of losing something or someone.” Loss is a normal and unavoidable part of being human, and grief is an emotion that is caused by loss. The Mayo Clinic explains “Grief is a strong, sometimes, overwhelming emotion for people…” Experiencing grief after a loss is healthy and natural. The more significant the loss, the more intensely grief is experienced. Examples of losses that may result in grief could include diminishing health, romantic breakup, moving, divorce, and/ or death of a loved one. Grief affects the human limbic system by disrupting certain brain chemicals (e.g., serotonin and dopamine). Dopamine is the neurotransmitter associated with one’s reward center and feelings of pleasure. Serotonin is known as one of the chemicals responsible for maintaining one’s mood balance.

Stages of Grief

In the not so distant past, experts conceptualized and summarized a pattern surrounding grief. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first introduced the Kübler-Ross model, more commonly known as the five stages of grief, in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying. The five stages of grief include:

  • Denial: Loss often comes as a shock, and it is not unusual to respond to the overwhelming emotion of grief by resisting to accept it.
  • Anger: When it is difficult to experience the loss or it cannot be justified in one’s mind, it is not uncommon to hide emotions and/ or pain behind a vail of anger. 
  • Bargaining: Attempting to make deals with a higher power to try to attain an outcome different than the loss experienced.
  • Depression: Grief-related depression includes overwhelming feelings of sadness and emptiness, experiencing a loss of motivation, increased fatigue, confusion, and lack of concentration. Feelings of guilt because of an inability to function optimally and care for others during the grieving process is also common.
  • Acceptance: This is the stage of grief that where an individual begins to accept the loss and reinvest in other parts of his or her life. The pain of the loss continues to be present but is no longer all-consuming. 

It is important to note that the five stages are not necessarily sequential. Further people will move in and out of some of these stages repeatedly over time. Grief is a process that is different for everyone. 

For Information and Support

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.

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