Many people think that bereavement, grief, and mourning mean about the same thing, but that’s not correct.  So that our discussions about the three can be kept straight, I would like to make sure we agree on what each term means.

Derived from the Old English word "bereafian" meaning "to deprive of, take away, seize, rob," bereavement involves a particular kind of loss.  It is the state of being deprived, usually by force, of someone or something we highly value.  While bereavement can refer to a variety of losses (death, divorce, amputation, etc.) we usually reserve it to refer to a loss that is the result of death.  The underlying assumption is that death always involves someone being taken from us generally by force and against our will.  Grief, on the other hand, is the collection of reactions we experience because of that loss while mourning is learning how to live in the world and adapting to life without the deceased.