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Bereavement vs Grief: What Are the Differences?

The first time someone close to you dies, it’s complicated. Knowing how to address, manage, and deal with the emotion of it can be even more tricky.

However, there are some tools you have at your disposal. If you know what you are dealing with and what stage you are in, you can learn how to help yourself cope appropriately.

Bereavement vs grief are sets of different feelings and emotions. It can help you understand where you are in the process. How will you know if you are having trouble managing your feelings if you don’t know what those feelings are supposed to be?

Here are the differences between bereavement and grief to make it easier to understand.

Bereavement vs Grief: Definition

What is bereavement? It is the sorrow felt in the aftermath of a significant loss. It can be physical, such as the death of a loved one, spiritual, or the end of a relationship.

It is a personal experience; it can take time for individuals to heal from the pain and move on. The process can be complex and may need the help of a professional to go through the entire process. It commonly happens to parents who are healing after a child loss.

What is grief? Grief is an emotion felt when someone experiences a loss. It is a complex emotional response that manifests in different people.

Common responses to grief can include shock, disbelief, fear, guilt, anger, and sadness. It influences one’s physical, social, mental, and spiritual well-being. 

It is an emotional roller coaster of feelings as one processes their loss. You experience it over a prolonged period, not in the hours, days, and weeks following the death of a loved one. 

Critical Stages of the Two

The stages of grief and bereavement vary among individuals. People go through a cycle of emotion as they come to terms with their loss. The most common stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Denial is a common initial reaction to loss and serves as one of the defense mechanisms to protect one from experiencing the full force of the anguish. Anger, likewise, is a protective measure and is often accompanied by feelings of guilt and confusion.

Bargaining is a cry for control and trying to make deals with a higher power. Depression manifests in many forms. It is often the most difficult to manage. Acceptance is a period of understanding and dealing with the pain without allowing it to consume one’s life.

Coping Strategies for Bereavement and Grief

Coping with bereavement and grief can be complicated and overwhelming. The most important thing is to talk about your feelings in a safe and supportive environment. Take time to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep.

Allow yourself to grieve and cry if it feels right. Engaging in activities that you enjoyed before death is also a good idea. 

Understanding an Individual’s Emotion

To conclude, bereavement vs grief are two experiences with distinct nuances. It’s important to remember that both are shared experiences and to be gentle, nurturing, and compassionate to ourselves and others. Contact a mental health professional today if you need help during this difficult time.

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