Grief is an emotional response to a loss. It usually involves several stages. Those who have suffered a loss hear of these “stages” (Kubler-Ross, 1969) and feel the pressure of them as ground rules, levels, if you will, to work through. This focus can deter the individual from a more natural grieving process.
There can be a considerable overlap among the “stages” and their predictable pattern, and this can cause for an overlap of emotions. Working through the stages of grief can eventually lead to the positive outcomes of grief, the 3 R’s: Recovery, Resolution, and Resilience. However, these outcomes are like a distant shore when one is drowning in those first powerful waves of grief.
In understanding the journey from bereavement and grief to resolution and resilience, it may be helpful to understand some of the processes involved. Bereavement refers to the state of being that results from a significant loss. It encompasses a wide range of reactions–emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physical, and spiritual. Grief refers to the internal process of regaining equilibrium. It requires reorganization on both emotional and cognitive levels, and includes a re-evaluation of spiritual concerns. Anticipatory grief refers to grief that occurs prior to the loss. While it does not prepare one for the loss, anticipatory grief does allow time for resolution of some issues. For this reason, the sudden death of a loved one is particularly difficult for the survivors because it does not provide any time for anticipatory grief. Mourning refers to the public expression of grief, including religious rituals, which can vary considerably by culture. Whereas the experience of grief is internal, private, and individualistic in nature, the process of mourning is more external, public, and cultural in expression.. Anniversary reactions refer to experiences of the grief response at certain significant times, even after there has been resolution of grief.