Grief and Bereavement

Grief is part of everyday life, and everyone has grieved at one point or another. However, the definition of grief might vary across different people. As much as there is a standard definition that grieving is the entire process of coping with the loss of a loved one, people have different grieving processes and experiences. People express their grieving process in different ways, such as looking sad, feeling depressed, feeling tired, and withdrawing socially. In that case, grief takes many forms, and this is what forms the definition of grief for different individuals despite having a standard definition. It is, therefore, crucial to understand that people grieve differently depending on their meaning of grief, and this calls for respect for any form of grieving individuals choose.

According to Hayslip and Hansson (2003), personal meaning and understanding of death influence how people grieve. They posit that death awareness is a vital process that informs individuals how they will react to mortality. This is equivalent to what a bereaved individual does or reacts to during the bereavement period. Based on their article, death awareness is something that individuals construct based on their experiences, their relationship with the lost person, cultural shifts, changes in mortality rates, and funeral rites. Such factors inform individuals of the meaning of death and consequently impact their grieving process. This proves that the grieving process and experiences are different across individuals and indicates that people grieve differently since they all have different experiences. 

Since people grieve differently and with different styles, it means that the bereavement period is different. The American Cancer Society posits that there is no defined bereavement period (2019). The intensity and length of grief depend on several factors. Firstly, the relationship of the bereaved with the dead person. Sometimes the relationship is so intense that death affects people intensely. For example, the death of an intimate person or a parent might take longer bereavement time than that of a friend. This is because the relationships between the two parties are different. For instance, the relationship with the friend could be shallow and hence, will not have a huge impact. This also explains why people have different grieving styles.

Another factor is the circumstances of their death. How a person dies affects how people will grieve and the length of the grieving period. In most cases, sudden death will result in a more extended bereavement period than if a person was sick for a long time. This is because a sudden death, like one that results from an accident, hits people with shock and disbelief. It is usually hard for people to realize that a particular person has died, leading to a more extended bereavement period. In that case, people will grieve differently in terms of length and intensity of grieving, depending on how their loved one dies.

However, too long bereavement is not recommended because, as Freud posits, grieving for too long can be unhealthy (Neimeyer & Gamino, 2003). Mainly prolonged grief is associated with unhealthy patterns of sleep and neuroendocrine disturbance. Besides, victims might become depressed due to stress and anxieties. This means that as much as people should be given chances to grieve in their own ways, it is crucial to consider the bereavement period because it could also impact their health. Nevertheless, people should understand that grief and bereavement are experienced differently and give each person a chance to grieve in their own way.


American Cancer Society. (2019). Grief and bereavement. Retrieved from

Hayslip, B. E. R. T., & Hansson, R. O. (2003). Death awareness and adjustment across the life span. Handbook of death and dying, 1, 437-447.

Neimeyer, R. A., & Gamino, L. A. (2003). The experience of grief and bereavement. Handbook of death and dying, 2, 847-854.