Grief

Alternative Names

Mourning; Grieving; Bereavement

Definition of Grief

Grief is a reaction to a major loss. It is most often an unhappy and painful emotion.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Grief may be triggered by the death of a loved one. People also can experience grief if they have an illness for which there is no cure, or a chronic condition that affects their quality of life. The end of a significant relationship may also cause a grieving process.

Symptoms

There can be five stages of grief. These reactions might not occur in a specific order, and can (at times) occur together. Not everyone experiences all of these emotions:

Signs and tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms, including sleep and appetite. Symptoms that last for a while may lead to clinical .

Treatment

Family and friends can offer emotional support during the grieving process. Sometimes outside factors can affect the normal grieving process, and people might need help from:

Expectations (prognosis)

It may take a year or longer to overcome strong feelings of grief, and to accept the loss.

Review

Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Michelle Benger Merrill, MD, Instructor in Clinical Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/18/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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