Grief is an emotion. It is experienced by nearly everyone. It is an emotional response to a significant loss. The grieving response may begin after the loss, or when an individual first expects the loss. The process allows a person to gradually accept changes that are beyond his or her control. Many times, individuals may not recognize an event as a loss or they may not realize that the grieving response is a natural, emotional reaction to an event. The following events or situations, for example, often precipitate the grieving response:

  1. Sudden death of a loved one

  2. Loss of a loved one (or the perception of loss) such as the loss of a spouse through divorce or children going away to college

  3. Loss of a job, such as through retirement or reorganization

  4. An individual receives a serious medical diagnosis

  5. An individual losses a body part or experiences a change in physical function

  6. An individual experiences a chronic illness that requires adjustment to exacerbations and remission of the illness

  7. An individual is dying

Anyone who experiences a significant loss grieves before he or she can reestablish a sense of "balance" in his or her life. The grieving response varies from person to person. It is influenced by a number of factors including extends of loss, and individual's personality, cultural background and religious beliefs. Most individuals have experienced the grieving response following the death of a loved one. The grieving response, however, is not the same as mourning; through mourning may be a part of the grieving response.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Grieving?

The grieving response consists of the following give stages, though and individual may not necessarily progress in an orderly manner from one state to the next:

A negative or maladaptive response to a loss and individual's inability to resolve his or her grief may lead to prolonged depression and emotional disorders. Sometimes, the individual may resort to self-destructive or maladaptive behaviors such as drug or alcohol abuse, acting impulsively or overeating.

Why Do Some People Fail To Grieve?

People fail to grieve for many reasons. Sometimes, the "strong one" in a family feels the need to look after everyone else while missing the opportunity for personal grieving. Sometimes, too, an individual may view grief as a weakness. A fear of losing control, concerns about hurting or imposing on others, and guilt about crying may also cause a person to deny the grieving response.

Self Care And Professional Help

A health professional will take a personal medical history and family medical history. If a physical or organic mental disorder is suspected, a complete physical examination and tests may be recommended. The individual may be referred to a specialist. Many different treatment options may be recommended, depending on the diagnosis and the individual's personal circumstances. In order to make informed decisions about health and wellbeing, individuals are encouraged to ask their physicians and health care providers to fully explain the benefits, risks, side effects and costs of all recommended tests and treatments. These are a number of self-help consumer books to help individuals and their loved ones understand and deal with grieving process. Individuals may also find it helpful to obtain individual counseling or to participate in self-help groups.

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