Grief is a response to a loss that includes feelings of disbelief, despair, loneliness, sadness, and emotional numbness. It is typically an emotional response, but it can also affect the individual in other areas of their life. The loss of a loved one is a common experience.
Other common losses include the loss of employment, status, possessions, or a feeling of security. The reaction to these losses is called grief, whereas the loss itself is referred to as bereavement. Grief was once thought of as a predictable set of responses, but researchers now view it as a wide range of responses that differ based on the individual.
Although grief is normal, it can be risky when the bereaved is lacking in support. Severe reactions to loss can carry over to family members causing trauma for children or spouses. For example, when a child dies, the risk for marital breakup is increased. The bereaved may begin to question their faith and beliefs response to the pain of their loss. Many who grieve are able to do so independently; however, additional support from bereavement professionals can encourage and promote the healing process.