Grief and Loss: Facts, Statistics, and Treatment
In the medical setting, grief is the emotional reaction to various types of loss, which can occur in many different ways. For instance, losing a job and a loved one might trigger the same grief response. And while it’s normal for individuals to experience this emotional distress, there are some cases when grief might become problematic for their health. Grief can become one of many different mental health disorders when allowed to persist without resolution. And that’s why it’s important to recognize when an emotional reaction to a loss or trauma can still be considered healthy and when it’s time to seek help and support.
Fast Facts: Grief in Numbers
- Roughly 3 million people die every year in the United States, each one leaving an average of 5 grieving friends and family
- At any given time, 57% of Americans are grieving a loss
- Complicated grief, which is characterized by overwhelming emotional distress, occurs in 10-20% of all grieving individuals
- 40% of grievers meet the criteria for depression one month after the loss, while 24% meet the criteria for depression two months after
- Grief costs the United States $75 billion due to lost productivity
- Up to 30% of grievers will still experience profound emotional distress even after three years from the loss
- 65% of grieving Americans experience some form of physical ailment along with their grief
- 49% of grieving individuals report that spending time with family and friends helps to ease the emotions
What are the Most Common Causes of Grief?
Loss is always caused by grief, but the definition of loss tends to vary. I am generally speaking. However, the loss is when something or someone is taken away from a person. It could be a social loss, an emotional loss, or a physical loss. The most common losses that result from grief include:
- Death: Grief is more common among adults because of their deeper, more profound understanding of and investment in various relationships. The death of a spouse or a child is the most profound cause of grief that lasts beyond one year.
- Unemployment: Losing a job can severely blow a person’s mental well-being. Often, the grief stems from the uncertainty and the financial instability that comes with joblessness. In some cases, people can be so invested in their careers that the thought of finding a new occupation can cause emotional distress.
- Divorce or breakup: A monogamous, intimate relationship is one of the milestones of adulthood. Thus, separating from a lifetime partner – especially if you’ve been together for a while – can feel daunting and uncertain. This can be particularly true if the person left has different feelings about the relationship.
- Medical diagnosis: In this case, the loss would be the semblance of a healthy, long life. Many people struggle to cope with a medical diagnosis, mainly if it provides a life expectancy. The idea that a person’s life might be cut short can cause sadness and worry, particularly in situations where the condition is unexpected.
- Financial trouble: Being unable to pay off debts, having personal items repossessed, and struggling to find ways to afford everyday life can be particularly stressful. The loss of a semblance of financial stability and security can be especially difficult for someone from a much more comfortable status.
- Major life change: Whether moving to a new town or adopting a new family member, situations that change your present reality can cause grief in that you lose your sense of normalcy. Any significant life change can make a person experience grief, and these emotions can linger until they become accustomed to the new normal.