Grief is an individual’s natural reaction to the loss of someone or something that holds significant meaning. Grief is not a single emotion, but rather a wide range of intense emotions accompanied by physical and behavioral reactions. Mourning is the acknowledgment and outward expression of grief and may be evidenced by social rituals such as memorial services or funerals. Bereavement refers to the period of grieving, mourning, and life adjustment following the death of a loved one.
Grieving is a personal experience that takes much time and energy and is often both physically and emotionally draining. When loss is sudden or violent, it may invoke traumatic reactions such as intense fear, numbness, helplessness, or horror. Grief and bereavement are often more complicated after a traumatic death, such as a homicide, and the intensity and duration of emotional reactions may be prolonged. The amount of support a grieving person receives from his or her family, friends, and community is critical to how successfully he or she will cope with grief. The following resources may help victim service providers recognize the symptoms of grief and identify coping strategies.