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Updated January 26, 2012

Definition: Grief

The reaction to loss. Grief refers to the emotional, cognitive, psychological, and physical responses a person experiences to any loss. Often, grief is associated with loss of a loved one through death, but other types of loss can also elicit a grief response, such as loss of a special relationship (as in divorce), the loss (perceived or actual) of an ability or state of being (as in debilitating illness or amputation).

Everyone’s experience of grief is unique, and may vary greatly as a person goes through various stages of grief, and as time passes. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some of the symptoms you may experience during your grieving process include:

  • Fatigue
  • Hollow or aching feeling in chest or stomach
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping, or excessive sleeping
  • Shock or disbelief
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Guilt or regret
  • Crying
  • Pain, both emotional and physical
  • Frequent thoughts about the loss
  • Desire to talk about the loss
  • Feelings of numbness
  • Anxiety
  • Relief
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness

Grief reactions are highly variable around the world. Reactions can be affected by culture, religion, and region. Even within a given ethnic group or culture, the experience of grief varies from person to person.

It is important to realize that if these feelings persist to the degree that they interfere with your life, your normal grief reactions might have become depression.

Please also see:

Also Known As: bereavement, mourning

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