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Managing Grief Effectively

Shella Sund
Grief is a natural emotion experienced after a loss.

Grief is a natural reaction to any kind of loss.  Loss does not always imply death.  Grief occurs when we lose something or someone that is very close to our heart and we are emotionally attached to that person, object, or life situation. 

We grieve when we lose a loved human, a pet, a place of residence, a job, a loved object, or a phase of our life.  For instance, a lot of people grieve the loss of youth or the loss of good health.

Bereavement Coordinator Kisha Davis points out the difference between grief and bereavement.  "Grief is the experience of mental, emotional, and physical stress after you have lost your loved one."  Grief is an emotion and bereavement is "the period of time you experience grief."  Bereavement is the period of  active grieving after experiencing a loss. 

Davis also clarified that depression and sorrow do not necessarily have the same meaning.  Sorrow is "one of the emotions experienced after a loss" and is usually not as intense or prolonged as depression.  Depression shows "clinical symptoms" and, depending on its severity, may require "medications, counseling, and support."

Grief may be handled in different ways by different people.  Some people handle it functionally and some may become dysfunctional.  When grief is handled in a dysfunctional manner, an individual may find it difficult to perform their every day tasks.  They may find it difficult to keep up with their responsibilities.

Friends and family play a very important role in helping an individual deal with grief in a functional way.  Ms. Davis pointed out that when someone is grieving, it is okay to feel uncomfortable in their presence but to be a good friend, it is necessary to reach out to the grieving person. 

When someone cries to express their grief, it may not be a good idea to stop them from crying.  Crying is a good way to handle grief as long as it does not become dysfunctional.

Formal and informal support systems can help us handle our grief in a way that we do not become overwhelmed by it.

Listen to the complete interview here:


Anita Sharma Ph.D., LCSW, is a Gerontology and Social Work Educator, Researcher, and Practitioner. She holds an M.A. in Medical and Psychiatric Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, a prestigious social sciences university in India, a Master of Social Work (clinical practice) and a Doctorate in Social Work from Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Louisiana and serves as a pro bono consultant to various agencies.
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