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 What is Loss, Grief and Mourning?

 Losses can fall into different categories such as :



The environment


Skills and Abilities

Loss of Future

Loss of Innocence

Loss of Trust

Loss of Protection of Adults

Loss of Habits

Loss of Control

Here is another way to categorize losses:


  1. Loss of Body Function
    Hearing, vision, mental capacities, mobility, communication
  2. Loss of Body Image
    Body part through surgery, accident, change in appearance, aging
  3. Loss of Control
    Natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, social conditions, hospitalization of loved one
  4. Loss of Freedom
    Political, employment, incarceration, stigmatized disease or culture impacting access to health care
  5. Loss of Health
    Medical conditions, illnesses, disability, debilitating or terminal diseases
  6. Loss of Home, Property
    Homelessness, natural or man-made disasters, aging
  7. Loss of Identity
    Marriage, career, new parent, empty nest syndrome, relocation, retirement
  8. Loss of Independence
    Change in living situation e.g. entering nursing home, marriage
  9. Loss of Innocence
    Early sexual experiences, advertising and media influences children to grow up too soon
  10. Loss of Job, Income
    Downsizing, layoffs, retirement, career change
  11. Loss of One's Own Life
    Death, suicide, accident, homicide, murder, war
  12. Loss of Plans, Hopes & Dreams for the Future
    Miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, adoption, infertility, relationship, job, career
  13. Loss of Relationship
    Death, divorce, pet, breakup, illness, adoption, miscarriage
  14. Loss of Religious Beliefs
    Questioning beliefs, disillusioned with church, organized religion, impact of sexual misconduct scandals
  15. Loss of Role
    Occupation, job, relationship e.g. parent, child, friend
  16. Loss of Safety
    Vulnerable feelings after rape, robbery, betrayal, unanticipated events, crises, traumatic events or disasters
  17. Loss of Sexual Function
    Physical or psychological etiology
  18. Loss of Significant Person
    Death, divorce, illness, relocation, military duty, missing person
  19. Loss of Treasured Object(s)
    Favorite objects, family heirlooms destroyed in fire/flood, theft
  20. Loss that is Unexpected or Unanticipated
    The sudden loss, which is often traumatic, that comes without warning from out of the blue, or the unexpected phone call.

Specific Losses that Create a Grief Reaction:

death of a loved one or less than loved one,

separation or divorce in a family,

Specific Losses that Create a Grief Reaction:

death of a loved one or less than loved one,

separation or divorce in a family,

romantic breakup,

abandonment by a parent,

grandparent moving away or to a nursing home

family member with Alzheimer's disease

sibling with special needs

losing ability to drive

inability to care for one self and/or live independently

loss of memory

domestic abuse

family member with a chronic illness

incarceration of a family member

living with someone addicted


military loss

living with someone with mental illness

loss of pet

loss of home

loss of friends

loss of personal property

loss of work

loss of identity



empty nest


financial changes


being bullied

witnessing a traumatic event

People often ask "what is the greatest loss- death of a child, a partner, a parent, a spouse, a sibling, or what?" The greatest loss is when it happens to you, whatever the circumstances or relationship. Each loss must be recognized and validated.

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