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Bereavement - Definition of Bereavement


Updated April 22, 2014

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What is bereavement? Bereavement, or grief, is defined as a set of reactions to a significant loss. While bereavement usually refers to the loss of a loved one, it may also refer to the loss of employment, a physical ability, possessions, or other events.

Bereavement is a complex process that is considered normal and may be accompanied by a variety of emotional reactions, behavioral responses, and thoughts. For example, in the course of bereavement you may experience sadness, anger, or relief. You may also feel the urge to withdraw from other people or to seek out social support.

Bereavement that is prolonged, overwhelming, or seriously impairing may be considered "complicated bereavement," a condition that may require intervention.

While there is very little research in this area, people with borderline personality disorder, which is characterized by an intense fear of abandonment, may theoretically be at greater risk for complicated bereavement due to their intense emotional reactions to separation from loved ones.

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