Bereavement and complicated grief

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2013 Nov;15(11):406. doi: 10.1007/s11920-013-0406-z.


Bereavement is a common experience in adults aged 60 and older. Loss of a loved one usually leads to acute grief characterized by yearning and longing, decreased interest in ongoing activities, and frequent thoughts of the deceased. For most, acute grief naturally evolves into a state of integrated grief, where the bereaved is able to reengage with everyday activities and find interest or pleasure. About 7 % of bereaved older adults, however, will develop the mental health condition of Complicated Grief (CG). In CG, the movement from acute to integrated grief is derailed, and grief symptoms remain severe and impairing. This article reviews recent publications on the diagnosis of CG, risk factors for the condition and evidenced-based treatments for CG. Greater attention to CG detection and treatment in older adults is needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjustment Disorders / drug therapy
  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology*
  • Adjustment Disorders / therapy
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Bereavement*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors