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Grief and bereavement in adults: Management

M Katherine Shear, MD
Charles F Reynolds III, MD
Naomi M Simon, MD, MSc
Sidney Zisook, MD
Section Editor
Peter P Roy-Byrne, MD
Deputy Editor
David Solomon, MD


Grief is the response to bereavement, which is the situation in which a loved one has died [1]. Natural acute grief reactions are often painful and impairing with emotional and somatic distress, but should not be diagnosed as a mental disorder. However, bereavement is a stressor that can precipitate or worsen mental disorders (eg, unipolar major depression). In addition, complications (maladaptive thoughts, feelings, or behaviors) may occur, such that acute grief becomes intense, prolonged, and debilitating. This condition is called complicated grief, which is viewed as a unique and recognizable disorder that requires specific treatment.

Acute grief does not typically require treatment. Most bereaved individuals are resilient and grief is transformed and integrated during a natural adaptive process that typically unfolds with the support and encouragement of close family and friends, as well as clergy.

This topic discusses the management of grief and bereavement. The clinical features of grief and bereavement are discussed separately, as are complicated grief, palliative care, and hospice:

(See "Grief and bereavement in adults: Clinical features".)

(See "Complicated grief in adults: Epidemiology, clinical features, assessment, and diagnosis".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 13, 2017.
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