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What is Loss, Grief and Mourning? 
Losses can fall into different categories such as:

  • Relationships
  • Self
  • The environment
  • Routine
  • 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,
  • 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
  • homelessness
  • 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
  • moving
  • graduation
  • empty nest
  • retirement
  • financial changes
  • abuse
  • 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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