Grief & Bereavement

Grief
Grief is the normal and natural response to the loss of someone or something important to you. It is a natural part of life. Grief is a typical reaction to death, divorce, job loss, a move away from family and friends, or loss of good health due to illness. In general, grief makes room for a lot of thoughts, behaviors, feelings and beliefs that might be considered abnormal or unusual at other times. Following significant loss, however, most of these components of grief are, in fact, quite normal. 

More>> NHPCO’s Caring Connections’ Information and Resources about Grief

Traumatic Grief
When a death is sudden, violent, and untimely, the bereaved will most likely also face other difficulties. The condition in which unmanageably intense and/or persistent grief symptoms occur is called Traumatic Grief. Traumatic Grief may predispose to other psychiatric, medical, and behavioral problems that can complicate bereavement. These are generally treatable conditions and need to be recognized by professionals and by the bereaved individuals themselves.  

More>> Working with Trauma Survivors  

Complications of bereavement
Bereavement is a risk factor for a range of mental and physical health problems. Among these are the following:

  • Prolonged grief or Traumatic Grief
  • Onset or recurrence of Major Depressive Disorder
  • Onset or recurrence of Panic Disorder or other anxiety disorders
  • Possible increased vulnerability to PTSD
  • Alcohol and other substance abuse
  • Smoking, poor nutrition, low levels of exercise
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Onset or worsening of health problems, especially cardiovascular and immunologic dysfunction

Managing Grief after Disaster Bereavement Counseling Related to Veterans Bereavement counseling is available through any Veterans Health Administration medical center to immediate family members of Veterans who die unexpectedly or while participating in a VA hospice or similar program, as long as the immediate family members had been receiving family support services in connection with or in furtherance of the Veteran's treatment.  

Bereavement Counseling Related to Veterans  
Bereavement counseling is available through any Veterans Health Administration medical center to immediate family members of Veterans who die unexpectedly or while participating in a VA hospice or similar program, as long as the immediate family members had been receiving family support services in connection with or in furtherance of the Veteran’s treatment.  (In other cases, bereavement counseling is available to the Veteran’s legal guardian or the individual with whom the Veteran had certified an intention to live, as long as the guardian or individual had been receiving covered family support services.) This bereavement counseling is of limited duration and may only be authorized up to 60 days. However, VA medical center directors have authority to approve a longer period of time when medically indicated.
 
Contact the Social Work Service at your closest VA Medical Center to access bereavement counseling services.
 
Practical Resource

Wounded Warriors: Their Last Battle—Facilitators Guide for Bereavement Coordinators