Managing Grief and Loss

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

Losing a loved one is never easy, and grief is a normal response to loss. It’s not at all unusual for someone in mourning to experience emotions ranging from anguish and fear to anxiety and anger.

While there is no single “right” way to manage grief, there are healthy approaches, and most people find that, with time and support, they’re able to move forward with their lives. But sometimes individuals who’ve lost someone dear to them have great difficulty processing their grief and can even develop a condition known as prolonged grief disorder.

So, how can someone grieving know when to consult a professional health care provider? Just what is prolonged grief disorder? And how do conditions such as depression and addiction impact challenges around grief and loss?

Audience Questions

Susan Block, MD, provides a guide to understanding and addressing grief and loss, offers providers tips for how best to support a patient who is grieving, and answers audience questions about healthy coping strategies during bereavement.

  • How would you define grief and loss?
  • Does grief only apply to the loss of a loved one?
  • How do we recognize when we are grieving something other than the loss of a loved one?
  • What are the main impacts of grief?
  • Is there a “right” way to grieve?
  • What are Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief?
  • What causes shock and how should one handle it?
  • What can people who are grieving say to others who don’t understand how grief works and try to push them along in their grieving process?
  • What is prolonged grief disorder, and how is it diagnosed and treated?
  • Where can you find professional help for processing grief?
  • Is the grieving process different following the loss of a loved one to suicide?
  • How can one help school-age children and teens manage the loss of a parent?
  • What can mental health professionals do for patients who are grieving a loss without focusing too much on the death?
  • What are some do’s and don’ts for supporting someone who is grieving?
  • What are some coping strategies for someone who is grieving?
  • Is there an appropriate age for a child to attend a funeral?
  • How can you support a loved one who is rejecting help?
  • How did the loss of so many people during the COVID-19 pandemic impact our societal grieving?
  • What can people do to process the enormous loss of life we’re seeing in global conflicts?
  • How can our education systems better prepare mental health clinicians and others to help people address and navigate grief and loss?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


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About Susan Block, MD

Susan Block, MD, is an institute physician in the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She is also a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Block has been a pioneer in the field of palliative medicine and has helped develop educational programs for medical students, residents, fellows, and faculty.

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Originally aired on December 14, 2023