Grief Definition and Description

For a grief definition I first turned to my Oxford Pocket Dictionary, which said something like intense sorrow or mourning.

I turned to the Merrian-Wesbster's Online Dictionary and the most informative line was, "deep and poignant distress caused by as if by bereavement."

Other lines that I stumbled upon in a quest for a helpful grief definition were:

- "intense mental distress" caused by bereavement

- "painful emotions" experienced when a loved one dies

- a "normal response" to loss that can dominate every aspect of life

Perhaps this is why we need to poets to get to the heart of the matter.


For your grief journaling or reflecting you may want to spend time considering:

- What aspects of your life are currently most effected? (social, physical, emotional, mental, behavioral, spiritual, etc.) How are they effected?

We don't always think about these things individually. I remember when someone pointed out to me how people who are experiencing intense grief or loss have a hard time focusing. When listening to lectures (or even long-winded people, reading, games), I often had to bring myself back to the present. Once you know this you can give yourself the grace to be in the space you are in. If I finished a page of a textbook and realized I didn't have a clue what was said, I could give myself the freedom to consider what I really might need to do for myself and then do it instead.

You can also use this lack of focus as an apology when you find yourself glazing over in a conversation. "You may have heard that people in grief sometimes have a hard time concentrating. I'm sorry I missed your question."

A grief definition may express nothing compared to the intense emotion you find yourself experiencing, but the following description gives a much fuller picture of what grief is really like.

Stephanie Ericsson Grief Description:

Stephanie Ericsson is the author of Companion Through The Darkness: Inner Dialogues on Grief.

She lost her husband while she was pregnant with their only child. She writes the following vivid description of grief:

Grief is a tidal wave that over takes you,
smashes down upon you with unimaginable force,
sweeps you up into its darkness,
where you tumble and crash against unidentifiable surfaces,
only to be thrown out on an unknown beach, bruised, reshaped...

Grief will make a new person out of you,
if it doesn't kill you in the making.

Reflection for your journey:

- Where do you find yourself wanting to push back from this description?

- What feels hard or difficult for you to read or relate to?

- What draws you in this description?

- Where do you see yourself and your journey?

- What invitation might be present for you in this description?

You may find it healing to get out a journal or open your word processor and give yourself time for some written reflection. Or if you lack the energy for writing, you may find it helpful to just sit with this description and see yourself in its imagery. It isn't a beautiful image. It is hard, but if it is where you are, it is sacred and can be honored as part of your journey.

Other articles related to the grief process:
Kubler-Ross Stages of Grief
My 5 Stages of Grief
7 Stages of Grief
Complicated Grief
Grief Quotes
Handling Grief
Dealing with Loss through Photography

Return from Grief Definition to Journey-through-Grief homepage

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