Grief may be triggered by the death of a loved one. People also can experience grief if they have an illness for which there is no cure, or a chronic condition that affects their quality of life. The end of a significant relationship may also cause a grieving process.

Everyone feels grief in his or her own way. However, there are common stages to the process. It starts with recognizing a loss and continues until a person eventually accepts that loss. People's responses to grief will be different, depending on the circumstances of the death. For example, if the person who died had a chronic illness, the death may have been expected. The end of the person's suffering might even have come as a relief. If the death was accidental or violent, coming to a stage of acceptance might take longer.

There can be five stages of grief. These reactions might not occur in a specific order and can (at times) occur together. Not everyone experiences all of these emotions:

  • Denial, disbelief, numbness
  • Anger, blaming others
  • Bargaining (for instance, "If I am cured of this cancer, I will never smoke again.")
  • Depressed mood, sadness and crying
  • Acceptance, coming to terms
People who are grieving may have crying spells, trouble sleeping, and lack of productivity at work.

Family and friends can offer emotional support during the grieving process. Sometimes outside factors can affect the normal grieving process, and people might need help from:

  • Clergy
  • Mental health specialists
  • Self-help groups
  • Social workers
The acute phase of grief usually lasts up to two months. Some milder symptoms may last for a year or longer. Psychological counseling may help a person who is unable to face the loss (absent grief reaction) or who has depression with grieving.

Source: MedlinePlus

Note: This topic was prepared to help consumers find reliable health resources on the web. This site is not responsible for the information on other sites. The information here — and on all websites — is not intended to be a substitute for care given to you by a health professional.

Recommended Reading

Hospice Foundation of America
This website offers grief-related articles on such topics as facing sudden loss, helping a child deal with death, grief and the holidays, and myths about children and loss. Hospice Foundation also publishes a monthly newsletter which is available online. The newsletter is designed to offer support and practical advice to those coping with loss and bereavement.

Grief and Loss, AARP
This link to AARP's website offers a variety of resources, including bereavement support and information about grief, hospice care and end-of-life concerns.

Mental Health America
This link to Mental Health America (formerly the National Mental Health Assocation) offers tips for coping with loss, living with grief and helping others grieve. The website also offers links to age-specific tips on dealing with loss and disaster, including military personnel and their families.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
The website of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has information about grief and offers resources for help.

Centering Corporation
The Centering Corporation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing education and resources for the bereaved. The website includes links to Grief Digest, a quarterly publication for grieving people and caregivers, as well as journals for both teenagers and adults experiencing loss.

Local Resources

Mental Health Connections, a mental health and substance abuse resource center, is located at 425 W. Mulberry St., Suite 101, in Fort Collins. Trained mental health specialists can help during times of crisis; provide referrals to local counselors, treatment programs, classes and support groups; and assist with finding affordable counseling and medications. Call Connections at 970-221-5551.

Pathways Hospice
Pathways Hospice provides specialized, compassionate care for anyone affected by an advanced medical condition and support to those who are grieving. Hospice offers a variety of grief and bereavement services, including individual counseling and support groups that are tailored to types of loss people may experience. To locate a support group, visit the "Mental Health Provider" section of this website and search for support groups. Hospice also has grief staff available to educate and consult community groups on issues of grief and loss. To reach Hospice, call 970-663-3500.

Resources for Coping with Crime Victimization

How to Get Help After a Victimization
This link to the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) website offers tips for those who have an immediate involvement with someone who has been a victim of crime.

Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance
The Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA) is committed to fairness and healing for crime victims, their families and communities through leadership, education and advocacy. By operating in an inclusive and compassionate manner, COVA creates solutions and positive change.

Resources for Grieving Parents and Families

The Compassionate Friends
The mission of The Compassionate Friends is to assist families toward the positive resolution of grief following the death of a child of any age and to provide information to help others be supportive. Their website lets you find a chapter support group in your area as well as participate in a chat-room discussion.

Fernside, founded in 1986 in Cincinnati, Ohio, is a nonprofit, nondenominational organization serving grieving children and their families. Their website offers pages for children, parents and educators.

Resources for Loss Due to Suicide

The Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County
The Alliance for Suicide Prevention offers grief support to residents, including a support group for people who've lost a loved one to suicide.

Resources for Loss of Loved One in Armed Forces

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) is a one-of-a-kind nonprofit Veterans Service Organization offering hope, healing, comfort and care to American armed forces families facing the death of a loved one.

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