Loss and grief

Other influential outcomes of disasters are feelings of loss and grief. Loss is common, particularly in crisis settings. There are many types of loss - the death of a loved one, destruction of property, loss of livelihood, the ending of an important relationship, physical injury, loss of security and social networks. Grief is a response to loss. It is a natural but painful process, intended to release the affected person from what has been lost. Complicated loss means that the grieving process is blocked and paralyses the bereaved. The affected person regards everything as hopeless, feels helpless and may not want to take part in any kind of activity or human interaction.

If the situation does not improve over time, the condition could develop into mental health problems, such as depression. In situations of stress and grief and where feelings of powerlessness arise due to bereavement, loss of property and loss of livelihood, it is common that violence rates increase. This may include all types of violence – physical, psychological, sexual – and the perpetrators involved can be individuals, groups and/or societies. Planning processes for psychosocial response, therefore, need to include the protection of individuals and groups, as well as offering assistance to those affected.

In cases where stronger reactions to trauma are becoming explicit, the distressed person should be referred to professional help.


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