My Grief Care

Foundations Of Grief

14 Episodes

Episode 5 : The Vocabulary of Grief


Episode Notes

The Vocabulary of Grief

When we lose someone, we may be confronted with words and terms related to our loss, language that we don’t routinely use. Being fluent in the jargon of loss, can help bring clarity to those who are grieving.

I’m going to review with you a shortlist of terms that get thrown around following the loss of loved ones. My goal is to define these terms in a way that may be helpful as you speak with others about your loss.

Loss is defined as an instance of losing someone or something. For our purposes here, we’re talking about a loved one who has died versus an estrangement or a divorce.

Grief refers to the deep emotional angst and mental distress you are feeling in response to the death of your loved one.

Your grief experience can range from deep sadness to numbness to overwhelming anguish. You may struggle with regrets, guilt, remorse for things you did or didn’t do. You may feel abandoned by the person, anger for leaving you behind, and even resentment. All this is grief.

Bereavement is the period or state of mourning after the loss of a loved one.  You’ve probably heard the term “bereavement leave” which might refer to an employer-approved benefit of time off following the death of a loved one.

Mourning is the outward behaviors or verbal expressions of the grieving person.

I think of grieving as what a person feels on the inside and mourning as the behaviors others see on the outside. In times past and in other cultures, mourning might involve societal expectations of the bereaved person wearing black, abstaining from a normal social life, etc. In our society, there really are no universal expectations of the mourner.

Trauma is the mental and emotional injury that often accompanies the loss of a loved one.

Of course, there are many other terms that describe emotions associated with grief and loss, there are words that refer to practical and legal implications of the loss of a loved one, and a glossary of the psychological/mental symptoms associated with the grieving process, and so on.


  • We defined the terms of grief, mourning, bereavement, trauma and loss. Note: you can download these terms and their definitions below the video.
  • We are reminded that our grief is unique in what we feel and how we express ourselves as we mourn.
  • There are no universal societal norms for mourning behaviors which give us few guidelines, while also allowing for individual freedom.


How would you prefer that others see you as you mourn?

Consider asking a good friend what they are observing and seeing if their perceptions and intentions match.


Our internal world and the outer world we experience are known only to us – unless we share. When we share our personal experience with others, we open up the possibility of aligning our personal internal perceptions with the world around us. Aligning these views tends to bring harmony and stability to our lives.