Grief: A Natural Phenomenon That Requires Attention


Yes, grief is a natural phenomenon, like our evolution, but, unlike it, grief occurs for a visible cause, or external to the person, since it is the loss of human relationships of different kinds. nature and characteristics.

What exactly is grief?

It is a process, because it runs through stages that are often not visible or perceptible, both by the person who experiences it and by their family and social environment. The most characteristic and observable thing is the depressive stage that manifests itself, mostly with sadness, apathy and/or reluctance. However, according to studies that we will refer to below, we find other manifestations of grief.

Grief is considered a natural phenomenon because it is a consequence of a natural event such as the death of a loved one, or even the loss of significant relationships for people. We observe that animals experience it too. Pets feel losses and may manifest them with lack of appetite, reluctance to go out for a walk, and searching for places where their owner used to be, among other signs of their pain.

However, we say that although grief is a natural process, it is necessary to pay due attention to it. In some way, we must “authorize” it, that is, give it its spaces and times. Therefore, it requires our protection, since otherwise it could be triggered at a time when we least imagine it. If we are going through a sensitive or vulnerable period, that grief that was not processed in a timely manner can manifest itself disproportionately, even affecting our mental health.

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Could there be any relationship between the bonds we develop with other beings and the grieving processes?

The answer is emphatically yes. In this regard, it is interesting to refer to a notable author, especially for his contribution to the knowledge of what is known as attachment systems, I am referring to John Bowlby (1907-1990). Attachment is, precisely, the bond that develops from an early age, first and foremost, with the mother and father. While, on the other hand, we can say that grief is, rather, a process of detachment from the loved one who has left.

Bowlby, between 1969 and 1980, developed his Attachment Theory, which explains the impact of the emotional relationships that are established in the child, from early childhood. His starting point were his own experiences from a young age in which, due to the First World War, he suffered pain due to the separation of his father who was enrolled in said armed conflict. Subsequently, his professional experience with abandoned children gives him the basis for the development of his Attachment Theory.

In 1961, Bowlby even proposed a model on the stages of the grieving process that is characterized by describing the urgent need to search that occurs in people after the departure of a loved one. We seek to find signs that reveal that the person who left is still nearby. It is also usually characteristic of visiting places that were significant to that person (Walker, 2013). We can see that the same thing happens with pets who lose their owners.

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However, it is the Swiss-American psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler Ross (1907-2004) who is recognized worldwide as the most prominent author on the phenomenon of grief. She dedicated a large part of her life to the study of this process, developing a model that is similar to Bowlby’s, but the literature reviewed allows us to affirm that Dr. Kübler Ross’s model is the most widespread.


In this regard, Kübler Ross speaks of five stages in the grieving processes, these are: 1. Denial, 2. Anger, 3. Negotiation, 4. Depression and 5. Acceptance. Briefly, denial usually occurs at the beginning of grief, manifesting itself as a certain disbelief in what is being experienced. Our mind is not able to assimilate this reality. Anger comes in different forms. For example, if it is a loss caused by another person, such as an accident, the anger will be against the causer.

But you could also feel anger towards the person who left for not taking good care of themselves. Negotiation is about an agreement with our feelings, in order to rationalize the loss. The stage of depression is characterized by enormous sadness, which must flow freely. It is important to mention that, in this case, it is a stage of grief, which should not be confused with clinical depression, where the causes are diverse and sometimes not clearly visible. Finally, the stage of accepting the loss will come. This will remain in the memory, but without causing pain.

How to navigate through grief

Not all grieving processes present themselves in the same way, in intensity, development of the stages and prolongation over time. In addition, It has been observed that there is grief that runs normally until reaching the stage of acceptance, and grief that becomes complicated when the depression stage lasts too long, or when grief has been avoided, waiting for everything to pass. In these cases we can speak of pathological grief because it affects emotional health. Some Recommendations for managing grief:

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