Bereavement, Grief, and Mourning: The Three Faces of Loss

Those who have lost a loved one will hear many words offered as comfort and used to describe what they’re experiencing. Bereavement, grief and mourning are sometimes used interchangeably, but in reality, they are different things.

Grief is the pain experienced with a loss. Mourning is the process of adapting to that loss. And bereavement is the time period in which grief and mourning occur. Grief, which is at the core of all three, can manifest in a variety of ways. Some people who are grieving experience feelings of anger, guilt, sadness, anxiety and depression, but grief can also cause physical symptoms such as trouble eating or sleeping. In extreme cases, grief can be debilitating, making it seem like life is not worth living.

Mourning is the process people go through when they are grieving and is influenced by personal beliefs and cultural mores. For some people, wearing black during mourning is customary. In other cultures, clothing that represents the grieving period is traditionally white. Some cultures have set time periods for mourning, and the times differ depending on the relationship with the deceased. The different rituals and customs associated with mourning help people work through their grief in a socially accepted way.

No matter how your culture or belief system dictates your mourning and the expression of your grief, bereavement is extremely personal. How long it lasts is different for each person, and the path to healing is unique for everyone.. Some things, however, are true for all of us:

  • Mourning is a time of separating from the person who has passed away. This separation can be extremely painful, but it’s necessary in order to begin to heal. It can be especially difficult for a spouse because life is so drastically different for one who has lost a life partner, and it’s easy to feel isolated.
  • During this time, there’s adjustment to the new reality of life. Life apart from the loved one who has died can feel completely foreign. Learning to move on means learning to cope with change and move on to create a new “normal.”
  • Bonds are sometimes strengthened, and new relationships are formed. Grief can be a destructive force, or it can bring family members closer. Leaning on each other during this time can bring healing. As life changes, though, new relationships will form, and that’s the way it should be. There’s no need to feel disloyal because of a new relationship or to feel like you’re “replacing” the one who has died.
  • In order to move past grief, emotional energy must be refocused. Put simply, love needs an outlet. If you’ve lost someone you loved, you can facilitate your own healing process by finding a way to focus on something outside yourself, whether that’s your family, community, place of worship or some kind of charitable outreach.
  • Part of grieving is honoring the loss. Healing doesn’t mean forgetting. Your loved one will always be important, and finding healthy ways to remember is just as important as moving past the loss and grief.

For many families, a meaningful memorial service can be the first step toward working through grief and beginning to heal. At Chapel of the Chimes Hayward, our dedicated staff will help you plan a life-honoring celebration to help you along the path to healing. Our beautiful grounds also offer a final resting place worthy of being a touchpoint for generations to come. Call (510) 400-8316 to learn how we can help you plan a tribute that honors the unique life of your loved one.

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