A Grief Support Blog

This blog will allow you the opportunity to acquire both support and guidance after experiencing a significant loss.

Over 40 life experiences you might have that cause grief

We’re indebted to psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe for the insightful research that led to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale. The now-famous scale details the 43 life events that are most liable to create feelings of grief, and in turn cause illness and other health-related problems. Although we use the word grief, rather than stress, we are in total accord with the list of grief-producing events. Our only problem with the list is that it is comparative and as such, ranks losses in a hierarchy on a point system. Since we believe all loss is experienced at 100%—even though not all losses are equal—we choose to present the list in the same order as Holmes-Rahe created it; with the only difference being that we omit the listing of point totals for each loss.

We’d like to point out that not all of the life experiences on the list would logically be viewed as stressors or grief or loss events. Note that near the top of the list is “marriage.” While we all know that the wedding day can be stressful, and that marriage is not without problems, we also know it’s often referred to as one of the greatest days of our lives. Additionally, the list includes “change in financial state,” which is not limited to losing money, but includes the impact of a sudden windfall, like winning the lottery.

Our definition of Grief

“Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.”

In addition to the life-events listed, we add a few more under the heading of “intangible,” for example: Loss of Trust, Loss of Approval, Loss of Safety, and Loss of Control of my body, among others.

Grieving Events

  • Death of a spouse
  • Divorce
  • Marital separation
  • Imprisonment
  • Death of a close family member
  • Personal injury or illness
  • Marriage
  • Dismissal from work
  • Marital reconciliation
  • Retirement
  • Change in health of family member
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Gain a new family member
  • Business readjustment
  • Change in financial state
  • Death of a close friend
  • Change to different line of work
  • Change in frequency of arguments
  • Major mortgage
  • Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
  • Change in responsibilities at work
  • Child leaving home
  • Trouble with in-laws
  • Outstanding personal achievement
  • Spouse starts or stops work
  • Begin or end school
  • Change in living conditions
  • Revision of personal habits
  • Trouble with boss
  • Change in working hours or conditions
  • Change in residence
  • Change in schools
  • Change in recreation
  • Change in church activities
  • Change in social activities
  • Minor mortgage or loan
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Change in number of family reunions
  • Change in eating habits
  • Vacation
  • Christmas
  • Minor violation of law
  • Loss of Trust, Loss of Approval, Loss of Safety and Loss of Control of my body



Grief group online




I appreciate so much all the support from the institute as I begin my Outreach Groups.
I appreciate so much all the support from the institute as I begin my Outreach Groups.
Hello, My name is Amaris Newport. Two years ago my brother shot himself which made me feel completely numb and shut down. I felt alone through the experience despite having people around to console me. Due to my experience I have been inspired to create an event where people can get together and share about the impact their loved one has had on their life so they don't have to grieve alone and to help them heal the pain, to help them discover community, and to be in a space where it's safe to move on and carry the memories of their loved one with them. If you're interested in participating in this project please email me for more details. [email protected]
Amaris - Your story about feeling alone, while surrounded by others who tried to help is something we hear every day at The Grief Recovery Institute. I hope that you will consider going through Certification Training with The Grief Recovery Method as a way of providing meaningful assistance to others.
Why don't you have suicide, sexual assault, domestic violence, children running away an loss of pets on your list
Thank you Leila Rae Sommerfeld, Life Coach
Leila - I agree with you 100% that the losses you mentioned should be on any list of stress causing situation that could cause grief! If you remember, from the first line of the article, this list is based on the work of psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe. The Holmes-Rahe stress scale dates back to a study they did in 1967, It is one of the few longer lists of loss events that has been published, rather than just a "top ten list." While it has proven useful from the standpoint of pointing out that there are other losses beyond death that can generate stress and grief, it is neither fully descriptive or complete. It is my hope that we can someday update this with more complete information. The one big problem in doing so is that a loss that has been specific so someone might be missed! I think that it would be safer to make the general comment that there are hundreds of loss events that can lead to grief, and then try to offer multiple categories of loss! I appreciate your comment!

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