Despite many variations in the language and concepts that are used to describe any bereaved persons, the professional literature sensitizes us to the difference between bereavement (the objective state of having suffered a significant loss), grief (the subjective reaction to loss), and mourning
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bewilderment, and many other feelings. Bereaved persons are all too familiar with these affective reactions to loss. But while feelings are an important part of the grief reaction, they are not the whole story. Feelings represent human sentiment, sensibility, and passion. In addition to feelings, a bereaved person may experience reactions that are distinctively cognitive, physical, behavioral, social, or spiritual in nature. For example, many bereaved persons experience confusion or an inability to focus on school work and other activities, lack of energy or a lump in the throat, tightness in the chest or hollowness in the stomach, sleep or appetite disturbances, upsetting dreams, restless overactivity or loss of interest in activities that had previously been enjoyed, problems in interpersonal relationships, hostility toward God, or a search for a sense of meaning. In children, cognitive disturbances associated with grief may be misconstrued as learning disabilities, while regression to bedwetting or thumbsucking may be misinterpreted, and sometimes punished, as simple misbehavior.