Grief can be a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something in which a significant bond was formed. Traditionally grief was thought of as the emotional response to a loss, however it can often have physical, cognitive, behavioural, social, spiritual, and philosophical dimensions. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement refers to the state of loss, and grief is the reaction to loss.
Grief is a very natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering one feels when something or someone the individual has a positive attachment to, is taken away. Grief can be a reaction to any type of loss. The feeling of grief associated with death is familiar to most people, but individuals may grieve in connection with a variety of losses throughout their lives, such as unemployment, ill health or the end of a relationship.
Loss can be categorized as either physical or abstract. The physical loss is normally related to something that the individual can touch or measure, such as losing a friend or family member through death. Abstract grief relates more to aspects of a person's social interaction, like grieving over a relationship break-up.
Every step of the grieving process is natural and healthy. It is only when a person gets stuck in one step for a long period of time that the grieving can become unhealthy, destructive and even dangerous.
Going through the grieving process can be different for everyone, but commonly results in shock and denial, then possibly obsessive thoughts where the individual keeps coming back to thinking of the loss. It is possible that grief can evolve to despair and depression which may even include feelings of anger, guilt, sadness and/or anxiety. The final stage of the grief process involves arriving at acceptance of the loss and an effort to keep moving towards recovery.