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April 12, 2007



My comments: I want to know more about the difference between grief and mourning? I have heard that mourning is the time of release, letting go and it follows grief, which has been described to me as the acute feelings of loss, the shock time? I wondered if anyone could help me to understand the emotions and the feelings that one experiences in a time of mourning. Thank you.

Brenda Nixon

Thanks for sharing this interesting research and your comments.
I found your blog via Amazon where you posted a review of Dr. Liane Leedom's book, Just Like His Father.
I also noticed you're an NSA member as was I for several years.

Richard Petty

Dear MA,

Thank you so much for writing.

It should be easy to give definitions of grief and mourning, but it is not because the terms are so often used interchangeably and sometimes incorrectly.

The term “grief” should be reserved for the emotional reaction to loss.

Mourning is the formal demonstration of grief: say wearing black or avoiding certain activities. The difficulty with definitions has arisen because some writers used to break down an “uncomplicated” bereavement or typical grief into three stages:
1. A “stunned” phase during which our emotions are blunted. This should not go on for more than two weeks
2. A “mourning phase” during which we feel distress and intense yearning and preoccupation with the deceased
3. Acceptance and readjustment

All three together should last no more than six months in Western cultures. If it goes on longer, then some help may be needed.

It used to be said that people just had to "suffer through" the normal feelings that we all have after a loved one passes on. I have made a lot of use of natural medicine together with some talk therapy to help people through. Some people jump in with antidepressants for people going through this normal reaction. There is some evidence that bereavemet realated depression is very similar to major depressive disorder. (

I don't like doing that unless there's a really good reason: I worry about medicating for normal - if traumatic - life events.

I do hope that answers the question. If not, please let me know, and I shall be happy to write some more about my strategies and my reasoning.

I don't mind revealing that this is not an academic exercise for me: my own mother passed on last October.

Kind regards,


Richard Petty

Dear Brenda,

Thank you so much for your kind and generous comments.

By a strange "coincidence" I was about to write a brief note about Liane's work.

Kind regards,


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