Bereavement – What is it?

“Bereavement is the objective situation of having lost someone significant; grief is the emotional response to one’s loss; and mourning denotes the actions and manner of expressing grief, which often reflect the mourning practices of one’s culture” (Stroebe, Stroebe, & Hansson, 1993, p. 5.) Much work has centred on establishing a pattern for grief, and bereavement counselling has involved facilitating clients through stages or tasks of grief towards a resolution or acceptance.

There have been simplified assumptions that emotional adjustment to loss comes about in stages that need to be managed by the bereaved person.  However, personal accounts from bereaved individuals suggest a more complex process of adapting to a changed reality; being immensely personal, cultural and intricately relational (Neymeyer, 1999.) As a Bereavement Counsellor myself, I find it extremely important to acknowledge that theoretical explanations can help me to understand reactions and symptoms of grief.  However, theoretical stages and tasks are not always linear and each stage can often be revisited.

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