chapter  6
Bereavement
Pages 7

Bereavement is the process that includes grief and mourning. Grief is a normal

reaction to intense sorrow over the loss of a significant person, or object, or part of

the self, or of a previous stage of the life cycle. Death of course is not the only loss we

need to mourn, although it is likely to be the greatest. Women who have experi-

enced a miscarriage, stillbirth, hysterectomy or mastectomy also need to grieve. The

loss of independence, through chronic disease, redundancy, being uprooted from

one country to another, or even the death of a treasured pet needs to go through the

grieving process. All loss requires a period of mourning and adjustment. Otherwise,

as our biography is our biology (our emotional and psychological history is imprinted

in the physical) there is a danger that long-term health problems will ensue.2 In

many respects we have been programmed to deal with loss from an early age

because we go through many difficult stages and changes in our lifetime. Hopefully

in time we will have gained the emotional skill and experience to deal with greater

loss.