Deutsch: Trauer / Español: Luto / Português: Luto / Français: Deuil / Italiano: Lutto

Mourning is the formal practices of an individual and a community in response to a death. The ways in which we express grief. responses to loss and grief involving efforts to cope with or manage those experiences and to learn to live with them by incorporating them into ongoing living; includes both internal or intrapsychic and external or interpsychic processes; sometimes called grief work or grieving (see above); some writers confine mourning to external or social expressions of grief and rituals used in coping with bereavement. It is one of the interpretations or theories of mourning.

In psychology, mourning refers to the process of experiencing and expressing grief following the loss of a loved one. It involves a range of emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioral responses that individuals go through as they come to terms with their loss.


Mourning is a highly personal and variable experience, influenced by cultural, social, and individual factors. Psychologically, it encompasses the stages of grief originally identified by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages are not necessarily linear and can vary widely among individuals. The mourning process allows people to gradually adapt to the reality of their loss, integrating the loss into their ongoing lives.

Psychologists understand mourning not only as an emotional response but also as a complex cognitive process that involves redefining one’s identity and worldview in the absence of the deceased. The process of mourning can lead to significant psychological growth and restructuring of life priorities and values.

Application Areas

The concept of mourning is relevant in various psychological fields, such as:

  • Clinical psychology: Therapists help individuals navigate the stages of grief, providing support through counseling and therapeutic interventions.
  • Developmental psychology: Examines how mourning processes differ across different age groups and developmental stages.
  • Cultural psychology: Studies how mourning is expressed differently across cultures, including rituals and social practices associated with grieving.

Well-Known Examples

Examples of psychological studies and theories on mourning include:

  • Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s model of the five stages of grief: While initially developed in the context of terminal illness, this model has been extensively applied to the mourning process.
  • Attachment theory by John Bowlby: This theory provides insight into how attachment styles can influence grief reactions and coping mechanisms during mourning.

Treatment and Risks

Inadequate or unresolved mourning can lead to complications such as prolonged grief disorder (PGD), previously known as complicated grief. This condition is characterized by persistent intense grief and functional impairment several months to years after a loss. Psychological interventions can include grief counseling, support groups, and sometimes medications to manage symptoms of depression or anxiety associated with intense grief.

Similar Terms

Related terms in the context of psychology include:

  • Grief: Refers to the emotional pain and suffering one feels after a loss, which is a part of the mourning process.
  • Bereavement: Describes the state of having lost a significant other through death, which encompasses both grief and mourning.


In psychology, mourning is a multifaceted process that encompasses the emotional, cognitive, and behavioral adjustments individuals make following the loss of a loved one. Understanding the dynamics of mourning is essential for providing appropriate psychological support and facilitating a healthy grieving process.


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