Definitions Of Bereavement Grief Mourning

The term 'bereavement' is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word bereafian, which means to be robbed. The sense of a love and life taken resonate through literature and the narratives of bereaved people. The sense of emptiness is a common experience. A study day on perinatal loss was entitled 'The Aching Void'. The term 'grief' is often used to describe the emotional experience of loss but it is understood more widely as being not only the affective experience but also the cognitive, physical and behavioural changes that accompany it. C.S. Lewis (1966) describes the autonomic experience: 'No-one told me that grief felt so much like fear . . .' The type of emotional reaction may be unexpected but bereaved people do expect to feel upset. Fewer anticipate the temporary loss of concentration and memory and

Handbook of Evidence-based Psychotherapies: A Guide for research and practice. Edited by C. Freeman & M. Power. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

this can add to loss of confidence and the sense of life being out of control. The emotional, cognitive and behavioural responses do not take place within a social vacuum but will be shaped by it.

'Mourning' was used by Freud to mean what is now understood as 'grief' but the term 'mourning' has come to mean the rituals associated with the expression of grief and is socially determined (Gorer, 1965). There is social pressure to conform to the rituals of the time and place but mourning rituals change and there may be resistance to this by those who have a vested commercial interest in existing practice. In 1686 the Scots Parliament passed the Act anent burying in Scots Linen to promote the local linen trade. It had to be certificated by witnesses that the corpse was buried in Scots linen or severe financial penalties were imposed. In 1707 this was changed to woollen material because of lobbying by the Edinburgh merchants (Gordon, 1984). In the following century Yorkshire manufacturers of the black cloth used in making mourning clothes wrote to Queen Victoria lamenting that the custom of wearing mourning was becoming less common and they were in danger of losing their livelihoods.

Dealing With Sorrow

Dealing With Sorrow

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