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Understanding Loss, Grief and Bereavement

Updated on June 21, 2015

Angel of Grief

Angel of Grief
Angel of Grief | Source

What are Loss, Grief and Bereavement?

Although a disorienting, disturbing and distressing process, grief and bereavement are a normal responses to losing something one holds dear; these are emotions that most people can cope with given enough time.

Loss is the disappearance of something cherished, often the death of a person, loss of a relationship, loss of a job or loss of health.

Grief is the entire response—mind, body and spirit—to the loss.

Bereavement is the often term used when the loss is due to the death of a loved one.

On this page we will explore the different types of losses, the normal grief response to loss and ways to cope with bereavement, or the death of a loved one. We will also look at suggestions for how friends and family members can help a grieving person manage his or her grief.

You will also find some of the basic information on loss, grief and bereavement, written so those experiencing a loss might understand what to anticipate with some of the normal responses following a loss, particularly a life shattering loss.

Ignorance is not bliss.

Knowledge returns a sense of control over seemingly random occurrences

and makes it easier to cope.

— Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS

Ripples of Grief

Water Ripple
Water Ripple | Source

Useful Information on Loss

The information written here is based on material I have written for the Internet and for my undergraduate and graduate courses based on the over 18 years that I have been involved in the field of grief, loss and bereavement.

I have spent many educating people about the normal grief response by teaching, lecturing, writing articles and through the Journey of Hearts website that was created in 1997 to educate people about the normal grief response.

On this page you will also find some helpful quotes and strategies for making it through the first few hours. There are also additional resources for more information to cope in the subsequent days.

Of historical note, this page was one of the early lenses that I wrote for the Squidoo writing platform in 2007 about these topics to help people understand the basics of loss, grief and bereavement.

The information has been presented in small bits and pieces and images, since many people are unable to process a lot of information when they receive bad news.

Basics on Loss Worth Knowing

Loss is the disappearance of something cherished, such as a person, possession or property.

Loss is a common experience common experience that can be encountered many times during a lifetime; it does not discriminate for age, race, sex, education, economic status, religion, culture or nationality.

Most people have experienced some type of personal or professional loss at some point in their life as simply as a byproduct of living.

Grief is a powerful, universal feeling,

but it is survivable.

— Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS, FT

Knowledge Helps in Coping with Grief and Loss

I believe that education is one of the best ways to understand the grief response and aid people in incorporating a major loss into their life.

This belief is part of the reason that I have spent many years educating people about loss and the normal response to grief.

A Time to Grieve

A Time to Grieve: Meditations for Healing After the Death of a Loved One
A Time to Grieve: Meditations for Healing After the Death of a Loved One

One of my favorite books filled with meditations or reflections to help during the time to grieve.


What to know about Loss...

Facing a sudden loss can be scary and disorienting. You are suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar territory that is frightening and unsettling.

Knowing that grief is a normal response to a loss and what you can do to make it through the first few days or hours can be very helpful.

Types of Losses

There are many different types of losses that a person may experience in a lifetime, in addition to those experienced following a death. All of these losses have the potential to result in a grief response.

The original list of Types of Losses started on the earliest version of the Journey of Hearts website at "What is a Loss?" It has been revised a few times since 1998.

The types of losses are listed alphabetically.

  1. Loss of Body Function

    Hearing, vision, mental capacities, mobility, communication

  2. Loss of Body Image

    Body part through surgery, accident, change in appearance, aging

  3. Loss of Control

    Natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, social conditions, hospitalization of loved one

  4. Loss of Freedom

    Political, employment, incarceration, stigmatized disease or culture impacting access to health care

  5. Loss of Health

    Medical conditions, illnesses, disability, debilitating or terminal diseases

  6. Loss of Home, Property

    Homelessness, natural or man-made disasters, aging

  7. Loss of Identity

    Marriage, career, new parent, empty nest syndrome, relocation, retirement

  8. Loss of Independence

    Change in living situation e.g. entering nursing home, marriage

  9. Loss of Innocence

    Early sexual experiences, advertising and media influences children to grow up too soon

  10. Loss of Job, Income

    Downsizing, layoffs, retirement, career change

  11. Loss of One's Own Life

    Death, suicide, accident, homicide, murder, war

  12. Loss of Plans, Hopes & Dreams for the Future

    Miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, adoption, infertility, relationship, job, career

  13. Loss of Relationship

    Death, divorce, pet, breakup, illness, adoption, miscarriage

  14. Loss of Religious Beliefs

    Questioning beliefs, disillusioned with church, organized religion, impact of sexual misconduct scandals

  15. Loss of Role

    Occupation, job, relationship e.g. parent, child, friend

  16. Loss of Safety

    Vulnerable feelings after rape, robbery, betrayal, unanticipated events, crises, traumatic events or disasters

  17. Loss of Sexual Function

    Physical or psychological etiology

  18. Loss of Significant Person

    Death, divorce, illness, relocation, military duty, missing person

  19. Loss of Treasured Object(s)

    Favorite objects, family heirlooms destroyed in fire/flood, theft

  20. Loss that is Unexpected or Unanticipated

    The sudden loss, which is often traumatic, that comes without warning from out of the blue, or the unexpected phone call.

Source: Dyer K. 1998. What is a Loss? Journey of Hearts.

Grief is one of the great common experiences

of human beings,

and yet sometimes

We feel so alone in our sadness.

— Martha Withmore Hickman

Healing After Loss

Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief
Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief

A small pocket sized book filled with meditations to work through grief from Martha Whitmore Hickman.

The perfect size for a purse or backpack, that you can pull out and read a meditation as you work through grief.


Alone in Her Grief

Alone in Her Grief
Alone in Her Grief | Source

What to know about Grief...

A grieving person may feel like they are going "crazy" with the physical reactions and intense emotions that is like a roller coaster ride.

Yet the emotional and physical responses are really just normal reactions to an abnormal event.

Information on Grief Worth Knowing

In their book "Life after death: A practical approach to grief and bereavement defined grief" Dr. David Casarett, Dr. Jean Kutner and Dr. Janet Abraham defined grief as,

"a multifaceted response to loss that includes psychological, behavioral and physical reactions combined with cognitive, emotional, behavioral, social, spiritual and somatic elements."

Thus the definition that I have used to describe grief over the years is "a multifaceted, normal reaction to a loss; it is the psychological, behavioral, social and physical reactions to loss."

Grief reactions may be seen in response to physical or tangible losses (e.g., a death or disaster) or in response to symbolic or psychosocial losses (e.g., divorce, losing a job).

Source: Cassarett, M., Kutner, J.S. and Abrahm, J. 2001. Life after death: A practical approach to grief and bereavement. Academia and Clinica, 134.

Video: Understanding Grief from HFA's Hospice

Normal Physical Response to Grief

When faced with a major life challenge, a person can experience a wide range of physical and emotional responses. These intense, overwhelming and unbearable responses often come in waves.

The grieving person may feel fine one moment and then depressed, anxious, distressed or angry the next; this causes some people to think that they are "going crazy."

These responses, in the table below, which can last for days to weeks, are not signs of being "crazy" they are normal reactions to an abnormal event.

Common Responses to Grief

General Responses
Pain Responses
GI Responses
Heart/Chest Responses
Empty stomach
Trouble sleeping
Abdominal pain
Abdominal pain
Short of breath
Back pain
Chest heaviness
General pain
Throat tightness
Crying, sighing
Increase/Decrease Weight
Common physical responses a loss

Am I going crazy?

Am I going crazy? (Scanner Fear 3)
Am I going crazy? (Scanner Fear 3) | Source

She was no longer wrestling with the grief,

but could sit down with it

as a lasting companion

and make it a sharer in her thoughts.

— George Eliot

Emotional and Behaviorial Responses to Grief

In addition to experiencing actual physical responses grieving people can also go through confusing, fluctuating and conflicting emotions that range from joy to profound grief or distress.

Strong emotions such as sorrow, sadness, fear, anger, terror, aching and guilt are among the very normal, common emotional responses for a person in grief.

Some of the more common emotional, behavioral and mental responses are included in the table below.

Many people feel stressed, anxious, nervous and afraid. Finding ways to manage these intense responses is an important part of adjusting to the loss.

Emotional and Behavioral Responses to Loss

Emotional Responses
Behavioral Responses
Mental Responses
Slowed thinking
Difficulty concentrating
Self Blame
Common Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Responses to Loss

Companion Through the Darkness on Amazon

Companion Through The Darkness: Inner Dialogues on Grief
Companion Through The Darkness: Inner Dialogues on Grief

Stephanie Ericsson's classic book on Grief. It includes my favorite descriptive quote on grief cited below.


Grief as a Tidal Wave...

Grief as a Tidal Wave...
Grief as a Tidal Wave... | Source

Grief is a tidal wave that over takes you,

smashes down upon you with unimaginable force,

sweeps you up into its darkness,

where you tumble and crash against unidentifiable surfaces,

only to be thrown out on an unknown beach, bruised, reshaped...

Grief will make a new person out of you,

if it doesn't kill you in the making.

— Stephanie Ericsson, Companion Through the Darkness

Different Responses to Grief

People experience and respond to a loss in many different ways. Some downplay the event and repress emotions. Some cope with angry verbal or physical outbursts. Others respond more emotionally by sighing, crying or sobbing. Still others cope physically with bodily complaints, pain and physical responses.

It may help to know that each person's reaction to a loss is unique, even if it is the same event. As a result, different people may experience, react and respond very differently when faced with a loss; this can be particular difficult if you and your spouse or family members have different coping strategies and styles.

Knowing that there are different ways of coping may help you to understand someone else's response to the loss. You can then look for ways that you can cope together and ways that you can cope apart.

Continuum of Grief

Continuum of Grief
Continuum of Grief | Source

Image Source Continuum of Grief.

© Kirsti A. Dyer. Created from Mokra's Sadness 4 and Martin Boose's Thinking. Both Royalty Free Use.

Grieving Styles - Intuitive, Instrumental or Blended

Professors Terry Martin and Kenneth Doka studied how people respond to a major life challenge and grieve the loss and published some of their results as part of their book, "Men Don't Cry, Women Do: Transcending Gender Stereotypes of Grief."

They determined there are two main ways people respond-the intuitive griever (stereotyped as female) and the instrumental griever (stereotyped as male).

Martin and Doka believe these Patterns occur along a continuum. Those grievers near the center show a third style or a blended style of grieving. The "blended style griever who is somewhere in between a little Intuitive (emotional/feeling) and a little Instrumental (physical/thinking).

What is important to realize about their descriptions of grieving styles is that these patterns may be related to gender, but are not determined by gender. Each coping style has it's own distinctive strengths and weaknesses.

The Continuum of Grief is shown in the graphic above.

Men Don't Cry, Women Do - Transcending Gender Stereotypes of Grief

Men Don't Cry, Women Do: Transcending Gender Stereotypes of Grief (Series in Death, Dying, and Bereavement)
Men Don't Cry, Women Do: Transcending Gender Stereotypes of Grief (Series in Death, Dying, and Bereavement)

An important look at the differences in grieving styles with Professors Martin and Doka answer the question, "Do men and women grieve differently?" In the book grief experts Martin and Doka explore the traditional gender stereotypes of grief and offer some suggestions for strategies likely to help with different types of grievers.


Same Loss - Different Grieving Styles

Couple Walking at the Beach
Couple Walking at the Beach | Source

The Intuitive Griever

Doka and Martin discuss the differences between intuitive and instrumental grievers in Men Don't Cry Women Do.

The intuitive griever feels the experience intensely and can be helped by expressing his or her grief emotionally often with crying. The intuitive grief style is the one often associated with typical female grief.

One of the best ways for the intuitive griever to cope is to express his or her emotions, possibly even in a group setting.

Characteristics of the Intuitive Griever

Common Characteristics of Intuitive Grievers include:

  1. Openly expresses feelings.
  2. Expresses anguish or sorrow with tears.
  3. Is not afraid to seek support from others.
  4. Allows time to experience the inner pain.
  5. May become physically exhausted or anxious.
  6. May experience prolonged periods of confusion and problems concentrating.
  7. Is able to discuss the grief.
  8. May benefit from support groups.

The Instrumental Griever

Doka and Martin discuss the differences between instrumental and intuitive grievers in Men Don't Cry Women Do.

The instrumental griever feels grief, but less intensely and more physically. They tend to think and problem-solve ways of coping with the experience. The instrumental grief style is the one often associated with typical male grief.

The instrumental griever needs physical ways to express the grief and may be reluctant to talk about feelings.

Swallowed by a Snake

Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing
Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing

One of the classics explaining how males grieve loss from Thomas R. Golden.


Characteristic of the Instrumental Griever

Common characteristics of Instrumental Grievers include:

  1. Pushes aside feelings to cope with the present situation.
  2. Chooses active ways of expressing grief.
  3. Often is reluctant to express feelings.
  4. Uses humor to express feelings and to manage anger.
  5. May only express feelings in private.
  6. Seeks solitude to reflect and adapt to loss.
  7. May not do well with a support group.

When Men Grieve

When Men Grieve: Why Men Grieve Differently and How You Can Help
When Men Grieve: Why Men Grieve Differently and How You Can Help

Another helpful book explaining why men grieve differently and what to do about it.


Carrying the Burden of Grief

Desolation. | Source

Grief can't be shared.

Everyone carries it alone,

his own burden, his own way.

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Reader Feedback on the Grief Response

What do you think about grief? Do we all grieve differently or the same?

Please note that messages of a personal nature may not be approved if the author deems them too personal.

Remember the Basics When Coping with Loss

Following a loss, death or other tragic event it may be difficult to remember to take care for oneself. When facing a loss it is helpful to focus the basics.

This short list provides healthy coping strategies that I recommended to patients and to friends, to keep them moving during the first few days.

  1. Take it one hour at a time, one day at a time, if need be one moment at a time.
  2. Get enough sleep or at least enough rest.
  3. Try to maintain some type of a normal routine.
  4. Remember that regular exercise helps relieve stress and tension.
  5. Eat a balanced diet. Limit high calorie and junk food. Drink plenty of water.
  6. Avoid using alcohol, medications or other drugs in excess or to mask the pain.
  7. Do those things and be with those people who comfort, sustain and recharge you.
  8. Talk to others, especially those who have lived through and survived similar experiences.
  9. Find creative ways-journal, paint, photograph, build, woodwork, quilt, knit, collage or draw-to express intense feelings.
  10. Remember coping skills you have used to survive past losses. Draw upon these inner strengths again.

Angel of Grief

Angel of Grief
Angel of Grief | Source

The Annual Cost of Grief

For a 2003 study by the Grief Institute used more than 12 recognized studies to compute the cost of a lost work hours due to grief.

They estimated that grief in the workplace grief costs U.S. businesses over $75 billion a year in reduced productivity, increased errors and accidents.

These numbers get broken down as following:

  • Death of a Loved One Cost: $37.6 billion
  • Divorce/Marital Woes Cost: $11 billion
  • Family Crisis Cost: $9 billion
  • Death of an Acquaintance Cost: $7 billion
  • Money Trouble at Home Cost: $4.6 billion
  • Pet Loss Cost: $2.4 billion

Russell Friedman, the institute's co-director perhaps says it best,

"When your heart is broken, your head doesn't work right."

Source: The Grief Recovery Institute. 2003.

Grief in the Office

Flowers at Work
Flowers at Work | Source

Heart Ache Leave vs. Bereavement Leave

In Japan, grief in the workplace is recognized in a special way. Japanese workers can take paid time off 'heartache leave,' personal time offf also known as shitsuren kyuka to mend a broken heart after experiencing a bad break-up. The time off allowed increases as you age.

In the United States, bereavement leave is frequently more limited. I remember two weeks after the September 11, 2001 tragedy, the flags were no longer flying at half mast, an indication that we were supposed to be moving on and getting over it.

Perhaps we should be looking at offering shitsuren kyuka in the United States, or a [paid] holiday you take when you feel too devastated to come to the office.

Time to Grieve

Time | Source

People in mourning have to come to grips with death before they can live again.

Mourning can go on for years and years.

It doesn't end after a year, that's a false fantasy.

It usually ends when people realize that they can live again,

that they can concentrate their energies on their lives as a whole,

and not on their hurt, and guilt and pain.

— Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

How Long Will I Grieve?

A grieving person must recognize that they may never entirely "get over" their grief. Some losses never entirely fade e.g. loss of child, loss of spouse, diagnosis with a terminal illness. Rather in time they learn how to integrate the loss or change into their lives and keep living.

The dual process model is one of the current ways of explaining the grieving process; it is a dynamic struggle between the pain of the death of the loved one (loss-oriented) and recovery (restoration-oriented).

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross may have described the process of grieving (mourning) best in her quote and how long grief lasts.

Therefore, the grieving process usually ends when people realize that they will survive and begin to focus their energy on living.

Piecing Together a New Life

Piecing Together a New Life (Weaving)
Piecing Together a New Life (Weaving) | Source

Piece by piece, I reenter the world.

A new phase. A new body, a new voice.

Birds console me by flying, trees by growing,

dogs by the warm patch they leave on the sofa.

Unknown people merely by performing their motions.

It's like a slow recovery from a sickness, this recovery of one's self.

— Tony Talbot

Learning to Live Again

The grieving process involves learning to adapt and adjust to a life forever changed by the loss, a life that can change in many different ways.

This may involve developing new skills, changing a circle of friends, moving, changing jobs, giving up activities and taking on new responsibilities.

Finding healthy ways to cope with the loss day to day can help including ways to take care of yourself and ways to remember.

Preparing for Anniversaries and the Anniversary response that often results is another way of learning to life again.

Healthy Coping Strategies

After making it through the first few days just focusing on the basics, the grieving person may need some helpful suggestions to keep going. This list comes from a lecture that I gave at the California Maritime Academy on "How to Cope with Loss, Grief, Death & Dying - Professionally & Personally" for a course on Dying: The Final Stage.

This short list provides additional healthy coping strategies to keep the person moving and doing something beyond first few days following the loss.

  1. Create a Memorial. Depending on the circumstances and the person you may want to create roadside memorial, a home shrine or a bulletin board filled with letters, notes, poems and pictures. You may decide to create a sculpture, a collage or fill a scrapbook with memories.
  2. Help to plan and organize the funeral, memorial service, or celebration of life to honor the person who has died. Planning a service, tending to the details, is something active to do, during a time when people often feel helpless.
  3. Plant a tree or flowers in a garden in memory of the person lost.
  4. Donate--money, time, food, clothing or other needed items--to a favorite charity, homeless shelter, animal shelter or home for abused women.
  5. Donate blood at your local blood center. Donating is another way of doing something active and giving something back.
  6. Write sympathy and condolence notes, letters of encouragement and support to those affected by the loss.
  7. Thank the emergency and hospital personnel, highway patrol, police and firefighters for helping if the loss involved an accident or emergency.
  8. Be kind to others. Make space for the car merging in on the freeway. Don't use your horn unless it is absolutely necessary. Let someone with fewer items go first in the grocery store.
  9. Perform random acts of kindness. This will help to remind one there is tenderness and thoughtfulness in the world. Pay the bridge toll for the person behind you. Smile at the store clerk. Some choose to perform random acts of kindness in memory of the person lost.
  10. Volunteer your services or skills. Offer assistance to someone in need.
  11. Do something that can benefit others. Take a first aid or CPR class.
  12. Remember to tell your loved ones, friends and family how much you care about them often.

Source: Dyer K. 2002. How to Cope with Loss, Grief, Death & Dying - Professionally & Personally. Presentation for California Maritime Academy's Dying: The Final Stage Course. Journey of Hearts.

Create a Circle of Healing

I have long had the belief that there is a healing power in holding a person in one's thoughts-whether through saying prayers or blessings or lighting candles.

These are the same beliefs echoed by Jim Reeves, the urologist who treated Lance Armstrong who recited the ancient Chinese belief, that when a person is held in the hearts and minds and souls of so many other people, they can do better.

Creating a circle of healing and positive thoughts and positive intention is something that friends and family can do when someone is sick or facing a life crisis to feel a little less helpless.

If nothing else, creating a circle of healing gives everyone something to do during a very difficult time.

Breathe, Just Breathe

Breathe | Source

Remember to Breathe

Whether is is coping with the loss of a loved one, managing a life changing event or just coping with everyday stressors, remembering to "Breathe, Just Breathe" is a very helpful coping strategy for the grieving person.

Breathe helps get oxygen flowing to the brain so you can think more clearly, which is important during stressful times.

When we are tense during stressful times, we often forget to breathe. Something simple as focusing on breathing can be very helpful.

Several articles on the benefits of breathing as a way to cope with stress and with loss.

Transitions by Steven Halpern


Steven Halpern's music on this CD was written to provide comfort and solace during times of transitions.


Listen to Music

Listening to comforting Music is a helpful way of coping with a loss.

One of my favorite comforting musicians is Steven Halpern.

His music creates a safe and sacred space. The music of Transitions is a helpful one to listen to when praying, meditating or practicing mindfulness.

Listening to his album Gifts of the Angels, is an ethereal other world experience, which can be very comforting for those grieving the death of a loved one.

Gifts of the Angels

Gifts of the Angels
Gifts of the Angels

There is an ethereal out-of-this world quality to this music on this CD. Listening to it there is a sense that of floating out in space and hearing the angels sing.

Somehow in Gifts of the Angels Steven Halpern manages to capture the voices of the angels, a comforting thought to many who have lost a loved one.


Touching the Soul Healing the Spirit through Music

One of the other artists that I have personally found to be very healing is listening to the early music of Josh Groban.

His music is able to touch the soul and heal the grieving heart.

Anniversary Response

Coping with the Anniversary of a Death of Loss

Honor the Fallen

Honor the Fallen
Honor the Fallen | Source

Anniversary Response

It is interesting to me that in a relatively short period of time starting at the end of August within the span of just a few weeks we experience the Anniversaries of several major deaths.

In 2015 we will celebrate:

  • The 6th year anniversary of the death of Michael Jackson (June 29, 2009)
  • The 10th year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina (August 29, 2005)
  • The 18th year anniversary of the death of Princess Diana (August 31, 1997)
  • The 9th year anniversary of the death of Steve Irwin (Sept 4, 2006)
  • The 18th year anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa (September 5, 1997)
  • The 14th year of September 11th (Sept 11, 2001)

Anniversary dates of a tragic event, the actual date of the death, the birth date of a loved one, holidays or other special occasions are common triggers for an Anniversary reaction or a grief response.

An Anniversary reaction or response is a sudden unexpected rush of memories, intense emotions and feelings of grief.

As I learn my life anew,

may I be empowered by loving memories.

— Martha Whitmore Hickman

A Life Forever Changed by Loss

The Journey of Grief following a loss, a crisis or a significant life change is a very personal and many times a very private one.

Each person experiences his or her own unique journey discovering their own internal sources of strength to help him/her cope with the grief response.

In the grieving process, the bereaved person must learn how to deal with the loss, crisis or significant change, adapt and adjust to a new life.

Despite the loss, life goes on, it moves forward and begins anew, but it is a life forever changed.

Life Anew

Fern Spiral (Koru)
Fern Spiral (Koru) | Source

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life:

it goes on.

— Robert Frost

Sending Condolences or Sympathies for a Loss

Sending Condolences by Email, Text or Instant Message

With all of the technology available to us these days, there are a variety of ways that messages can be sent, other than the old styles letters (snail mail) or by phone.

Email is slowly starting to be recognized by some etiquette experts as an alternative way of sending at least initial condolences.

Most of the etiquette experts believe, and I concur, that texting and IM (instant messaging) are too informal and should only be used for casual topics or informational briefs.

Recommended Books for Coping with Grief

When Bad Things Happen to Good People

When Bad Things Happen to Good People
When Bad Things Happen to Good People

One of the classics answering the question what to do when bad things happen to good people.


Classic Grief Books

These are just some of the grief, loss and bereavement books that I have in my personal collection.

These three are some of the classics "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" "How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies" and "A Grief Observed" recommended for those who have experienced a loss.

The words and message in these classic grief book have stood the test of time for being helpful resources.

These books have been recommended to me during my losses and recommended by me when helping others cope with loss.

How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies

How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies
How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies

Helpful suggestions from Dr. Therese Rando with how to cope with someone dies.

A Grief Observed
A Grief Observed

One of the earlier books written on grief, by C.S. Lewis


Recommended Books for Coping with Loss

When There Are No Words

When There Are No Words: Finding Your Way to Cope with Loss and Grief
When There Are No Words: Finding Your Way to Cope with Loss and Grief

How to cope when there are no words for how you are feeling after a loss.


Classic Books on Loss

For those who are interested in learning more about loss, particularly life after loss and the effects of ambiguous loss here are several of the helpful books.

Charlie Walton's book on "When There Are No Words" is a helpful resource for finding ways to help those helping others to cope with the unimaginable losses.

Bob Diets book on "Life after Loss" is one of my favorites. Now on the 4th edition this classic has helped many people to cope after experiencing a major life loss.

One of the more challenging losses is that of ambiguous loss where there may be no closure or end for those grieving. This book by Pauline Boss looks at ways of helping those experiencing ambiguous loss or as it is referred to as unresolved or even frozen grief.

Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief

Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief
Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief

This book looks at ambiguous loss and how to live with unresolved grief.


More Resources for Coping with Grief

Resources for Coping with Different Aspects of Grief and Loss

Grief and Loss topics were among the earliest ones that I wrote about when I started writing for Squidoo in 2007. Over the years I have written on many different aspects of grief and loss.

You can look at the list below and the links that follow so you can find out more about a particular area of bereavement.

Copyright Information Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License © 1997-2015 Kirsti A. Dyer MD, MS, FT. Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

The material in this resource book may be copied and reproduced on websites or in newsletters, ezines provided that the Author's Biography information and a link to this page is included with any article.

Longer excerpts from this online resource book may not be copied, duplicated or reproduced for use in a for-profit setting without prior written permission by the author.

History of the Loss, Grief and Bereavement Lens

Loss, Grief and Bereavement # 1 in Health on Squidoo

Screen shot of Squidoo May 29, 2008.
Screen shot of Squidoo May 29, 2008.

Topping the Health Topic

The Loss, Grief and Bereavement lens topped the Health Topics on May 29, 2008 and remained as the top topic for over a month.

Since the new topic restructuring, the Loss, Grief and Bereavement lens was re-classified in the Grief and Loss category under Healthy Living.

Since Moving to Hubpages, this page has been reclassified into

Health → Death and Loss of Life → Grief and Bereavement

Loss, Grief & Bereavement - a Masterpiece Lens

I was honored and humbled to have been recognized in the early days of Squidoo as one of the Masterpiece Movement lensmasters, these were lensmasters who were committed to bringing the highest quality, most relevant information, best writing and greatest ideas.

In order to qualify you need to present your best work, your best ideas, your most fabulous, over the top lenses.

According to Margaret, "The grief page IS a masterpiece, IMHO"

Share your thoughts on loss and grief...

Please note that messages of a personal nature may not be approved if the author deems them too personal.

© 2007 Kirsti A. Dyer

Comments on the Loss, Grief and Breavement Lens

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    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @darkflowers: Thank you. It isn't a topic that most people think about much until they have to deal with a loss.

    • darkflowers profile image

      Anja Toetenel 

      6 years ago from The Hague, the Netherlands

      I loved this great Lens on a topic that is so important as we all face loss, grief and Breavement in our lives! Wonderful tips, great info, thank you so much!

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @socialcx1: One of the more difficult parts of life. Thank you for your comments.

    • socialcx1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Guess it's all just part of living and the only why we heal after suffering a sad loss. Lovely lens, thanks

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @ConvenientCalendar: That's why they call them triggers - the grief can come back anew. Understanding that people have triggers can be helpful.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      It is funny how you can get over grief, then something like a song or a certain thing can trigger the grief years after you are through it, then you have to get rid of those thoughts again! Great lens

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @Aunt-Mollie: The amount of grieving often depends on the type of loss. There are some griefs that you never truly get over.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Grief can be as dehibilitating as an illness and as unique in its ramifications as each individual is unique. Fortunately, for most the worst cycle of grief does not last forever.

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @anonymous: Thank you

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Worth reading thoroughly!

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @Trudy Hanley: I am glad to know that the lens was of help.

    • Trudy Hanley profile image


      6 years ago

      This information is so powerful. An abundance of understanding. Just after reading through it for the first time, I feel enlightened, and calmer. Thank you.

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      6 years ago from Northern California

      @SusanRDavis: Thank you for the blessings. Loss isn't a topic that most people want to deal with until they have experienced a loss.

    • RaintreeAnnie profile image


      7 years ago from UK

      Your page has really helped me on several occasions, so just wanted to say thankyou and blessed.

    • SusanRDavis profile image

      Susan R. Davis 

      6 years ago from Vancouver

      What an important resource for anyone who has ever suffered a loss - and you mention the many kinds of loss, not just death - or anyone who wants to support someone who has suffered a loss. Dr. Kubler-Ross is an excellent resource, as I found out many years ago in my first time of loss. *blessed*

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      7 years ago from Northern California

      @RaintreeAnnie: I am saddened to read that you have needed to use the page, but glad to know the information has been of help.

    • SassyGie profile image


      7 years ago

      In my line of work, I deal with people at the end of their lives so I can totally relate to this lens. It's a very emotionally-taxing job...

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      7 years ago from Northern California

      @ClassyGals: I am glad that the information was helpful.

    • ClassyGals profile image

      Cynthia Davis 

      7 years ago from Pittsburgh

      Angel Blessings for creating such an informative lens on how to deal with loss. I can't tell you how helpful this lens was to me in my time of bereavement.

    • ManualMustafaa profile image


      7 years ago

      Very helpful lens, thank you...

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      7 years ago from Northern California

      @Tagarack: Sometimes talking out that conversation or writing out letters with what you would have liked to have said to a loved one, or even writing the conversation you might have had with them can help.

    • Tagarack profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a wonderful lens on a very difficult topic, but you give some very good advice and information on the grieving process. I lost my parents about four years ago, and while it's a bit easier these days, I still feel the loss a lot. The other day I found myself wanting to call them to tell them how I was doing, and I remembered that I couldn't and it hurt, bringing back a flood of memories. But anyway, thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject and some great resources. Any blessings and likes are well deserved.

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      7 years ago from Northern California

      @ericstrate: Thank you.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Dang, what a great lens... I hope I can get good enough at this Squidoo thing to make lenses as nice as this some day! :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great lens. I'm new to Squidoo but I like what I have read here. I have experienced a lot of loss in my life and can totally relate to a lot of what is here. I highly recommend a book I read by Gloria Hunniford called "Always with You"

    • HomeDecorKnight profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful lens... I bookmarked it because I have a bad feeling I'll be consulting it soon :/

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      nice lens..:D

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      7 years ago from Northern California

      @chas65: Anniversary days can be very challenging, especially when most people do not remember the dates that someone died.

    • chas65 profile image


      7 years ago

      One way my wife dealt with the loss of our grandson was to get an antique box and fill it with personal things that belonged to him, kind of like the memorial you mentioned.

      She tried to stay busy and be with people she loves on those anniversary days.

    • HealthfulMD profile imageAUTHOR

      Kirsti A. Dyer 

      7 years ago from Northern California

      @EMangl: You are fortunate to have a photo-folder full of memories.

    • EMangl profile image


      7 years ago

      just today i received an email that a friend fell of a hill while climbing - my first reaction was to open my photo-folder and searched for the days where we have been out in nature: it was a sad journey but also a good time ...

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      7 years ago from Templeton, CA

      As one very acquainted with grief, I think you've done a great job on this.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is such an important topic, and you have done a beautiful job in discussing all aspects of it. Blessed!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a very important lens. I dealt with grief regularly in my clinical work - survivors of sexual abuse would finally get to the stage of healing during which they would grieve for the childhoods they never had, the innocence that was stolen from them, the safety they should have known, etc. It is a hard and important part of healing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      this lens is important to me at this moment when i am mourning the death of two ministers in the government of kenya. remember the government of kenya. thank you

    • ChenB profile image


      7 years ago

      This lens is considerable important for anybody who has ever lost someone near and dear. This lens brought up many happy memories of lost loved ones.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great lens, full of love, and peaceful healing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Consider the book: "The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Turn the End of a Relationship into the Beginning of a New Life" by Susan Anderson for issues related specifically to Loss/Abandonment. Great book. It includes a practical process for healing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You are the one to come to to find information about this subject, a friend just lost her father, happening a lot at the age we are now, losing parent. Beautiful information on so many of your lenses. Thank you. *blessed*

    • PaulWinter profile image


      7 years ago

      A very helpful lens. I wrote a lens about the loss of my son not long after he died. I am disabled, so whereas others in the family could distract themselves with work i was left on my own for long periods of time. it happened nearly 4 years ago and I still think I'm grieving, but the feelings are not so intense.

      Occasionally I get comments left on my lens from parents who have just lost their child, and some have said what I have written has helped. But I know no words can take way the pain of the loss of a loved one. It is something we have to work through.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very much supportive lens for all, specially who are going through loss, grief and breavement.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very much supportive lens for all, specially who are going through loss, grief and breavement.

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 

      7 years ago from Valencia, California

      Thank you for sharing, having lost my Father and about to lose an Uncle and Cousin and day now, I appreciate these kind words

    • icansurpriseu lm profile image

      icansurpriseu lm 

      7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, Great lens

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      7 years ago from Alabama USA

      Thanks for sharing these tips and info.Lot of help for the person going through loss and grief.

    • rachelscott profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens i found your lens so interesting and deserve thumb up.

    • avigarret profile image


      7 years ago

      This lens is admirable, you've taken up a difficult subject and handled it beautifully.

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      7 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Coming back again to give this lens a blessing. It is a great resource!

    • tomazg profile image


      7 years ago

      This really is a beautiful and meaningful lens. It sure helped many people...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      a very nice lense !

    • Cari Kay 11 profile image


      7 years ago

      I know this page has helped so many just have to bless it!

    • HenkWillemse profile image


      7 years ago

      Yes loss is a real setback in one's life, but all of us have to deal with it at some time.

    • cynthiannleighton profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks! Useful

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens!

      You hit all the checks in my grief boxes.

    • CreativeXpressi profile image


      7 years ago

      A wonderful and informative lens! Thank you for writing this lens!!!!

    • norma-holt profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens now featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2012 and also on Why do Humans Suffer, Hugs

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for you lens.nice!

    • mrkensworld profile image


      7 years ago

      Dr. Dyer great lens. I hope you are blessed as you will help many through these tough times in life. Thanks for the great lens!

    • Scotties-Rock profile image


      7 years ago from OREFIELD, PA

      Beautiful Lens! Blessed!

    • craigmitchell profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for such a rich and helpful lens. Some truly helpful recommendations for actions and reading material. Thank you.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens, one of my favorite quote about sadness: Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death by Jean-Jacques Rousseau ...

    • peggygallyot profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for the wisdom that you have shared

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful lens!

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 

      7 years ago from Shanghai, China

      This lens is so amazing - I am going to refer people to come here when they have had a loss. I was also delighted to see that Steven Halpern had done more music - he is very sensitive, and I am going to go buy these albums. Thank you so much.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Again, thank you for this lens. :)

    • snazzify lm profile image

      Katie Harp 

      7 years ago

      blessed by a squid angel :) <3

    • Rangoon House profile image


      7 years ago from Australia

      This is such a helpful collection of material. Our family recently lost a precious pet and the different unique grief responses from each of us were interesting - I now understand that better. I appreciate the quotations you site and am staggered at the statistics you share. Blessings.

    • JoanieMRuppel54 profile image

      Joanie Ruppel 

      7 years ago from Keller, Texas

      You are such an expert on connecting this difficult subject to ordinary people. Of course I cried while learning about the possible next step on my "journey." Thanks so much.

    • tyrosine profile image


      7 years ago

      wow was overwhelm by the loads of information you have on loss :D

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Outstanding resources on loss. It really made me think and try to face the losses in my own life.

    • intermarks profile image


      7 years ago

      Very well and nicely build lens. We have to face the truth bravely and look forward and don't look back.

    • Wedding-Music profile image

      Matt Warren 

      7 years ago from Cheshire, UK

      A very powerful lens, thank you

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a well-researched, informative, poignant but helpful lens on a topic that impacts all of us at one point or another. Well-done!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      7 years ago

      This is truly an amazing lens. Blessed!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for the awesome lens! Very informative I loved it

    • ottoblotto profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautifully written

    • TTMall profile image


      7 years ago

      Very good information. Thanks for sharing!

    • LouisaDembul profile image


      7 years ago

      It is so true that loss and bereavement can involve so many different features of life. Very good information on how to deal with it.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Dr. Dyer, thank you for sharing this wonderful lens. I have usually thought of grief in connection with losing a loved one, but your lens helps me see that we can grieve over many life experiences. While reading your list "Types of Losses," I was surprised at how many of them I have experienced. Thanks, again and all the best.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very useful article. Thanks for posting.

    • biminibahamas profile image


      7 years ago

      As a former medical professional I thought that I could handle personal loss. After helping my Mother and sister through hospice within 2 months of each other I came away thinking, well, I am OK. It wasn't until several months later it really hit me. Profound grief. Your lens is spot on. Thank you!

    • Pip Gerard profile image

      Pip Gerard 

      7 years ago

      definitely among the very best lenses on squidoo! thank you for sharing your years of work. I've always said death and grief should be talked about way more in society... I'm amazed that most of the time it seems an almost taboo subject.... can only assume that's because of the intense emotion associated with it. I think I'm still grieving the loss of my brother 13 years ago... or whether or not I supressed the grief and numbed myself from expressing it to it's full... do you believe that's possible?

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Having gone through loss and grief myself I identify with the pain ...thank you for a lens devoted to this topic, not an easy one.

    • accfuller profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for this lens - it's very helpful :)

    • blogalexg profile image

      Alex Graham 

      7 years ago

      Hello Dr.,

      Loved your lens. Lots of great information! I especially liked the sections about:

      Types of Losses, My Professional Opinion on Grief & Loss, Sending Condolences by Email, Text or Instant Message.

      I write an English Language Learning Blog for international adult readers. I will probably be referencing you in the course of 2012.

      Thank again,


      Celebrity English

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • Country-Sunshine profile image

      Country Sunshine 

      7 years ago from Texas

      I can definitely identify with your "Grief will make a new person out of you, if it doesn't kill you in the making." You have provided a wealth of great information. Thank you so much!

    • vkumar05 profile image


      7 years ago

      A highly introspective Lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for the lens.

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      8 years ago

      thank you for sharing this lens. whenever we have a family reunion, we visit my parents' graves and recite the rosary for them. i am pretty sure that when it is my time to go, they will pick me up and gather near my deathbed.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Nice lens. Today am exploring top lens. Your lens is interesting and informative.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for the lens. Loss and grief can be very crippling, especially if it's of a loved one. I know people who end up becoming very depressed as a result.

    • Jimmy Gavin profile image

      Jimmy Gavin 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, always a difficult time for everyone

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 

      8 years ago from California

      Helpful...thank you.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Thanks for sharing....blessed.

    • CanInsure profile image


      8 years ago

      I think grief can be very powerful.

    • krakensquid profile image


      8 years ago

      Another fantastic lens of yours!

    • jadehorseshoe profile image


      8 years ago

      This lens is the encyclopedia of sad; that's a good thing.

    • dwnovacek profile image


      8 years ago

      What an incredible lens. Over the past three years I've suffered through 11 of the types of loss you mention here. I now understand so much more about my feelings and reactions during this time. Angel Blessed!

    • SiochainGraSonas profile image


      8 years ago

      Finding this lens at this time is a blessing. This was very helpful to me.


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