Four tasks in mourning

About Grief

A word very similar to grief is the word “mourning.” Generally, the response to loss is called “grief,” and the psychological process that changes over time after loss is called “mourning”. In detail “mourning” is used to describe the sorrow expressed externally, while the word “grief” means internal sorrow.


Worden (2008) stated that the bereaved have four tasks while mourning. Mourning is considered not to be a passive process that heals naturally over time, but rather an active process that the bereaved deal with the following tasks: To work through the pain of grief itself has meaning and is considered necessary.


[Worden’s four tasks of mourning]

First task: To accept the reality of the loss

  • To face the reality that the person has died and will not return.
  • Traditional rituals, such as funerals, can help many bereaved accept death.


Second task: To work through the pain of grief

  • Avoiding the pain of grief can prolong sorrow.


Third task: To adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing

  • Adjusting to a new environment has different meanings which depend on the relationship with the deceased and the role played by the deceased.
  • The bereaved is asked to reconsider one’s view of the world, and to discover the meaning of the loss.


Fourth task: To relocate the deceased emotionally and move on with a new life

  • To replace the deceased appropriately in the bereaved heart (watching gently by one’s side, always living together in one’s heart, etc.).
  • Mourning can be considered complete when the bereaved can remember the deceased without pain.


Source: Worden JW (2008): Grief Counseling and Grief therapy: A handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner. 4th edition. Springer Pub Co.