Meaning of the terms loss, grief, mourning, and bereavement

What do the words mean?

Secondary and cumulative losses

Let’s take a closer look at secondary and cumulative losses experienced by children when a person they love dies:

Secondary losses

Secondary losses are the additional losses that come with losing a loved one. This could be a physical object, a tradition that involved the deceased, or something else. Often, these secondary losses appear over time rather than all at once. Those grieving see them unfold as they realise the impact the death has on their day-to-day life.

Possible secondary losses

  • Secondary losses due to a significant carer or parent dying e.g., financial changes, changed relationships, loss of shared memories, decreased sense of security and safety
  • Rites of passage losses such as having their loved one with them when starting school for a young child, at the celebration of special birthdays, sporting events, matric dances, graduation etc.
  • A parent who is less available. A surviving parent may have to work longer hours or be struggling with their own grief so become emotionally unavailable to the grieving child.

Cumulative losses

When someone experiences one loss after another, unaddressed grief can compound into what is known as cumulative grief or cumulative losses which can accumulate over years and seriously affect a person’s physical and mental health. Although children are known to be resilient and are often able to recover more readily from a death of a loved one, they do not become desensitised to multiple losses. In fact, with each subsequent death they can emerge more vulnerable to the impact of future losses. Children do not get used to the death of their family members, close friends or peers.

Word Search puzzle

Here’s a Word Search puzzle for you using the words you’ve just read about. See if you can find each of the words in the puzzle. Click on the beginning and drag to the end of the word. They may be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or even backwards. We’ll be timing you…!