The term mourning usually refers to the sorrow felt because of the death of a person:

  • Great ​sadness ​felt because someone has ​died:
    • Shops were ​closed as a ​sign of mourning for the ​king. He was in mourning for his ​wife.

(Cambridge Dictionary)

  • What is the expression that indicates the process, which may vary from person to person, during which the deep sorrow for the death of a friend or family member is 'elaborated' and the death is finally accepted?

I am referring to the process we all undergo after the loss of a loved person (a parent, a friend, a family member). It is neither positive or negative, it is just a natural way to face a personal loss. We all may react differently and may require more or less time. It generally ends when you "accept" the loss.

I use "get over" in the title, it is a good expression but a generic one.

  • 1
    I'm still confused, sorry. Are you referring to: 1. The process of grieving. 2. The result of grief (acceptance/coming to terms). 3. Both (the whole process)? Thanks. Jan 27, 2016 at 18:52
  • @Kit Z. Fox - you deleted the best answer, in the sense that it is the best suggestion to the question.
    – user66974
    Jul 18, 2016 at 16:58
  • 1
    @Josh61 It was not supported in any way and advice to improve it had been ignored.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Jul 18, 2016 at 17:01
  • @KitZ.Fox - yes, unluckily it was not improved by the user.
    – user66974
    Jul 18, 2016 at 17:02

10 Answers 10


You could consider using come to terms with which means:

to start to accept and deal with a difficult situation: 'She's never really come to terms with her son's death'.

[Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed]

To accept could be another choice:

Tolerate or submit to (something unpleasant or undesired).

If you read the linked 5 Stages of Loss and Grief, acceptance is the last stage of Loss and Grief:

Reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression.



Surprised I haven't seen this, as it's the first one I think of:


  1. a period of mourning after a loss, especially after the death of a loved one:

    The widow had many visitors during her bereavement.

  2. a state of intense grief, as after the loss of a loved one; desolation.
  3. deprivation or loss by force (usually fol. by of):

    The hurricane left a trail of bereavement of ordinary people.

  • I like "bereavement" best for the "official mourning period" but I'm unclear if that's the specific period the OP has intended or the whole period of time it takes someone to overcome the loss of a loved one. Nonetheless, +1 Jan 26, 2016 at 17:06
  • Yeah, thinking about it (I was going to edit, but got distracted at work), I'm not sure if it covers the "after" part/recovery from (or lack of recovery). Maybe "bereavement period" would cover the start and end... The widow had an extended bereavement period before she was finally able to move on.
    – WernerCD
    Jan 26, 2016 at 17:11
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    I understood bereavement to mean the fact of having lost someone, not a process or time period - that seems to accord with the 'British' definition on the above link so could be a BrE/AmE difference.
    – nekomatic
    Jan 26, 2016 at 20:18
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    @nekomatic Well, as an American/Veteran, I'm used to the term being used for time off taken for loss so I consider it a period of time, process, etc. Example 1) Federal Bereavement Policy Example 2) BBC Bereavement Article
    – WernerCD
    Jan 26, 2016 at 20:27
  • I think those references could equally be interpreted as 'time off because bereavement has happened', but I'm happy to accept the word may be used in the sense you suggest.
    – nekomatic
    Jan 26, 2016 at 22:38

Colloquially, you could say you've moved on after a tragedy. I think this doesn't need a dictionary reference.

I was upset for a very long time after my dog died. But now, I've come to terms with it and moved on.

  • this is the answer I would have given - most of the other answers relate to the ongoing grieving etc, not the final state.
    – Alnitak
    Jan 28, 2016 at 15:22

Although it is a term that is often mis-used and over-used, some people might refer to this as having achieved closure.

In the psychology sense, the need for closure refers to needing to find an answer. In the case of a death, the question could be justifying (in ones own mind) why the loved one has died, or possibly how will I continue living without my loved one? Once a person has answered these questions and no longer dwells on them, this is closure.

  • 2
    If the OP isn't looking for closure, I'm totally at a loss here.
    – Mazura
    Jan 27, 2016 at 0:51

You could also use recovery

a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. "signs of recovery in the housing market"


You could state somewhat poetically that the waves of grief have subsided and now the process of acceptance has begun.

But I don't know of any specific word or phrase that defines/describes the mode that follows periods of grief. We seem to take a binary approach to this: either we're grieving or we're not.

I found an expression "returning from grief to gratitude" that I like. I captures the shift in sentiment, from the isolation and numbness of grief to the openness and joy of living that (hopefully) was the norm before the tragedy.


You might say that they are "coping with" their loss.

to deal with and attempt to overcome problems and difficulties —often used with "with" [learning to cope with the demands of her schedule]



Merriam-Webster: to return to normal health or strength after being sick, injured, etc.

My first thought was @ColinFine's answer, grieving. It emphasizes a necessary condition for getting over the loss of a loved one. But as @QPaysTaxes points out it's not sufficient. It could be used to describe hopelessness. "He can't stop grieving." I also like closure. However that could apply to someone who never mourns at all, if they come to an "immediate closure."

Recovery comes close, but the emphasis is different.

 Recovery = closure + implied grieving
 Recuperation = grieving + implied closure

I would say the OP "process of getting over" emphasizes the grieving.

Recuperate usually applies to physical or financial recovery. But googling "recuperate|recuperating from the death of" turns up over 200,000 uses. So I suggest this use fits within the "etc." part of the above definition, and health can include emotional health.

recuperating from the death of his wife and for the most part he appears to have a good support system

Maggie has recently been recuperating from the death of her last family member.

a peer support program that helps struggling kids recuperate from the death of a love one.


You already have the answer. That process is called mourning.

From dictionary.com:

  1. the period or interval during which a person grieves or formally expresses grief, as by wearing black garments.

From Merriam-Webster:

the act of mourning for someone who has died


2b. a period of time during which signs of grief are shown

The Wikipedia article on the topic describes various customs for this period, and describes it like so:

Mourning is, in the simplest sense, grief over someone's death. The word is also used to describe a cultural complex of behaviours in which the bereaved participate or are expected to participate.

  • I cited mourning in my question, but what I am referring to has wider and more psycological implications. I am not referring only to the 'formal' behaviours connected with a death of a person, but also to the personal effects that this death has on those involved. Some people make take months or years before they feel "free" from the loss of a loved person.
    – user66974
    Jan 28, 2016 at 9:59

You could say,

I'm just pulling through the loss/death of...

pull through: To successfully endure or survive something difficult, as trouble or illness. The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs

I'm just coming through the loss/death of...

come through: To cope successfully with perils and troubles; weather adversity. Random House

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