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The difference between grieving & mourning

Grieving and mourning are two related but distinct processes that individuals go through in response to a significant loss.

While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences between them:


Grieving refers to the internal and personal experience of processing and coming to terms with the loss. It encompasses the emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioural responses to the loss.

Grief is a complex and individual journey that involves a wide range of emotions, such as sadness, anger, guilt, and confusion. It is an internal process of adjusting to the reality of the loss and finding ways to cope with the emotional pain. These are some of the ways in which you may feel:

  • Feeling a deep sense of sadness and emptiness after the death of a loved one

  • Experiencing anger or guilt in response to the loss of a relationship

  • Going through periods of confusion or questioning the meaning of life following a major life change.


Mourning, on the other hand, refers to the external and social expression of grief. It involves the rituals, customs, and behaviours that individuals and communities engage in to acknowledge and express their grief.

Mourning often includes activities like funeral ceremonies, memorial services, wakes, or other cultural practices that provide an opportunity for people to gather, remember the deceased, and offer support to the bereaved. Mourning serves as a collective way of honouring and commemorating the loss. These are some of the ways in which you may mourn:

  • Attending a funeral or memorial service to honor and remember the deceased

  • Participating in religious or cultural ceremonies specific to mourning

  • Wearing specific clothing or symbols, such as black attire or armbands, as a visible sign of mourning

  • Engaging in communal mourning practices, such as sharing stories or holding memorial events to support and remember the deceased.

"Every journey is unique, but you must realise when you're stuck and seek help." – Amanda Lee, Grief Specialist

Grief is internal, mourning can place pressure on you

Grief is the internal experience of dealing with loss, encompassing the emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioural aspects. Mourning, on the other hand, is the outward expression and manifestation of grief through cultural and social rituals and practices. While grieving is a personal and individual process, mourning involves the communal and shared aspects of grief that bring people together to acknowledge and support each other in their grief.

If you need help on with your grief recovery, then reach out for an initial discussion to see if coaching is the right support for you.

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