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 Kenyada Mabone on June 19, 2010 at 11:19am
I am sorry I have a agree with Liz, when you have had that much death in your life how can you tell some one to get on with there life that is just wrong. I lost my Karl in my hands Feb 10, 2010 and I am still crying to beat hell. My Karl's headstone arrived here in Minnesota and I watched them put it in the ground and I tell you I stood out there and cried so hard as if it was the first day of his death and he has been on vaction four mouths and I just miss him so, Liz you go with your heart and you do what you think is healthy for you. This is how I feel
Comment by Carolyn J Suddieth on June 16, 2010 at 10:45am
This scale helps me to know where I am in my grief and the areas I need to work on; how I look to other people....
Comment by Lana on June 15, 2010 at 11:48pm
The grief scale is helpful for me. At least, it helps me to recognize that what I am experiencing is grief and that I am not going crazy.
Comment by Liz on June 15, 2010 at 4:15pm
This scale is not helpful...it is too long and cumbersome. I just lost my 53 year old daughter on May 1, to liver disease. My son was killed in an auto accident 3 years ago. My other children are living and well. I am divorced - for years and my ex is in a nursing home, cared for my his wife - live alone, practice law full time and have always maintained my professional demeanor and my self control. I do my weeping and screaming in private, although I did sobat the funerals. If one more person tries to tell me how to grieve, I am going to slap them. I do NOT need to get away and be alone, I need to occupy my time with productive work. I do NOT need to cry on demand, I do that in private. I do NOT need to talk it all out with my friends: I have a perfectly good psychologist to talk to and I do. I do NOT need to be left alone by my other children; I need to play with my grandchildren and enjoy the time I can have with each child and children. I actually had a relative ofmine tell me that I was not grieving enough for my son. Then my daughter died and I told her that I had apparently recovered sufficiently to avoid a mental hospital which would be the obvious result of my failing to tell her my innermost feelings. I tell everyone the truth: my mother was all but disseration for a phd in theatre....I am acting all the time.
Comment by Kathy Bossler on June 8, 2010 at 2:53am
how do u use the grief scale nothing happens

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