Grief is the natural, healthy, spontaneous, unlearned, normal, emotional, healing process that occurs after a significant loss.

Grief is experienced uniquely by each of us, and is often experienced in waves, with emotions, thinking, physical, social and spiritual/religious responses coming and going in terms of the intensity, duration and order of our reactions to the loss.

One of the keys to coping is awareness. Awareness is helped if you can learn about yourself. This holistic grief scale is for you to help yourself gain knowledge of your grief, and then to do something with that new awareness.

There are 5 sections in the grief scale. Each section represents a part of being human. They include: emotional, cognitive, physical, social, and spiritual/religious.

To be able to understand the waves of grief we have ranked each experience from 1 to 10: 1 being the low end of the scale and 10 the most intense. For example, if you have been experiencing helplessness since the death, and it is causing you to feel increasingly incompetent, frozen, or unable to exert your personal power in the world, then you would rate yourself near a 10 on helplessness.

After you have completed the scale you will have a picture of your grief at this moment in time. It is a good idea for you to periodically return to the scale and rate yourself again. You will then have a chart of your progress.

Remember that the grief scale can also capture your current experience not only after a death, but after some significant change or transition in your life, such as the loss of a job, divorce, move to another country, etc.

If you score in the severe range of the scale on most or all of the dimensions, we recommend you seek professional help.


Grief Scale

Emotional Components

1. Shock, numbness, feelings of unreality
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

2. Helplessness
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

3. Fearfulness
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

4. Vulnerability
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

5. Sadness
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

6. Anger, irritability
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

7. Emptiness, loneliness
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

8. Guilt
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
None Moderate Severe


9. Carelessness, harming oneself in any way
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

10. Outbursts, euphoria
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe


Cognitive Components

1. Slowed and/or disorganized thinking
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

2. Confusion, aimlessness, difficulty concentrating
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

3. Preoccupation, rumination
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

4. Unaffected, no thoughts at all about the person or circumstances
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

5. Dreams, nightmares
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

6. Decreased self-esteem
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

7. Altered perceptions, sensing the presence of the deceased person
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe


Physical Components

1. Fatigue, sleep disturbance
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

2. Decreased or increased appetite
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

3. Physical distress, nausea
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

4. Anxiety, hypo-or hyperactivity
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

5. Greater susceptibility to illness
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe


Social Components

1. Being unaware of others' needs
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

2. Passive
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

3. Withdrawn or avoiding others
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

4. Decreased work productivity
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

5. Loss of interest in usual pleasures, including hobbies, relationships and/or sex
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

6. Strained relationships, differences in grieving needs between self and others
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe


Spiritual/Religious Components

1. Anger at God
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

2. Crisis of faith
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

3. No longer receive comfort and/or strength from your relationship with God
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

4. Loss of meaning in life
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

None Moderate Severe

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Comment by Jane McKee Varley on September 12, 2010 at 4:51pm
It's been nearly 6 months, since my dad passed over. I feel a baby step batter, but, I KNOW, this is going to take a LONG time for me, to get on with my life. I am the MAIN person, who is handling EVERYTHING, it's not done yet, the house still has to be cleaned out, and sold. I have my own family who I have to tend to. Somedays, are just, darned if you do, darned if you don't. I'm at the point where I really don't give a rats arse, anymore. My dad, raised me, after my mom walked out on him. I moved back with my dad when I was 9. So, yeah, I'm the baby of the family I have 2 older brothers. My oldest brother, was there for me, and dad, when he was in the hospital, he flew in from Texas, not once but TWICE, now that is the kind of support I needed, He was there when dad drew his final breath. The one brother could care less, one way or the other, didn't help out, when he should have, and now, he's living with mommy, at 61 years old.. she is no where being as sick as my dad was, for 2 weeks, in the hospital, before he said to me, "I want to die."!!! I'm sorry for flying off the handle, bu this is how I feel right now. Hopefully, in another 6 months, I'll be in a better state of mind, God willing.
Comment by Susan Troiano on August 15, 2010 at 7:53pm
It has been a year and three months since I lost my husband to cancer. I am a total mess. I don’t care anymore, and I have thought about death more times than I should. What is worse is the fact those you had expected to be there for you weren’t. No one calls or stops by to see how I am. I have been trying to find work. I can’t collect unemployment since I quit helping him. I only get food stamps, haven’t paid the mortgage since no money. I feel there is no hope. I question what the point of living is when I can’t get help with anything, and I know I am losing it. I just don’t want to be here anymore.
Comment by Pat Russell on August 15, 2010 at 6:58pm
All i can gather from this is that i am not going to make it. I gave birth to 3 beautiful children. i buried my 3 year old daughter 30 years ago,and mytreasured little grandson 15 years ago,and now its my son. I cant stand this much pain,I cry until I am sick,and scream until I my throat is raw. i am in absolute total terror at all times now,so afraid that last child is going to die now too.
Comment by Pat Russell on August 15, 2010 at 6:58pm
All i can gather from this is that i am not going to make it. I gave birth to 3 beautiful children. i buried my 3 year old daughter 30 years ago,and mytreasured little grandson 15 years ago,and now its my son. I cant stand this much pain,I cry until I am sick,and scream until I my throat is raw. i am in absolute total terror at all times now,so afraid that last child is going to die now too.
Comment by pamela silver on August 2, 2010 at 8:58pm
after doing the grief test i would have to say there is truely no help,no one can help me, no deals with the devil,no begging god, no information i can read, and nothing anyone can say to me will help its hopeless!
Comment by Marianne Lewis on July 30, 2010 at 3:32pm
Well I am in bad shape. Been 3 1/2 yrs since losing Matthew, haven't been able to do life at all. The depression is only making me sick, and incapable of being a mother to my other 2 kids. My friend-list has dwindled down to very few, I hide in my home, am not working, about to lose everything ....... now what? Is there any help out there?
Comment by Tina on July 12, 2010 at 11:37am
I think the grief scale is great! I am trying to help my husband as he grieves his mother of just over a month ago. It helps me to see that all he is experiencing is very normal and that is all I need to know to realize he is going to be OK. I can stand by and be patient and let time heal him. He has to go through all or most of these feelings to have grieved. Again, I think this is wonderful to be aware of all the different emotions that folks grieving go through.
Comment by Kelly's Mom on July 7, 2010 at 12:06pm
Yes life is not good. I dont think anyone can help us. I am in real bad shape today.
Comment by Tammy Egberts on July 6, 2010 at 9:02pm
I guess i am in pretty bad shape...
Comment by julie thomas on June 20, 2010 at 9:29pm
actually the grief scale is helpful, at least im better than i thought i was. i seem to be in the more moderate than severe. i lost my husband 2 years ago and i usually do ok until some annivesary of something comes along and all my emtions go right out the door. it is getting a little easier recognizing them when they come. a scale is ok, it is just a scale.

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