summer 2023 week 14 grief discussion

Identify the symptoms of grief in the individual(s) in the video that you watched, taking culture into consideration.

I selected Liam Neelson’s character from “The Grey”. He is experiencing grief and mourning after the death of his wife and the proper term for this is “bereavement” (Boland et al., 2021). Liam is experiencing Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief of anger and depression concurrently. His anger is manifested by asking “why has this happened?” and through withdrawal and preoccupation with his wife’s memory. He may be trying to work through his anger by shooting a wolf. He is in despair as evidenced by his statement “I’ve stopped doing this world any real good”. He displayed maladaptive coping mechanisms such as binge drinking alcohol, isolating himself, writing what appears to be a suicide note and placing a gun in his mouth.

 Assess if the individual(s) in the video that you watched has a psychiatric illness or if their symptoms are within an adaptive range for grieving for that group/culture.

Liam meets the DSM-5 criteria for a diagnosis of major depressive disorder as evidenced by a depressed mood and loss of interest occurring daily for at least 2 weeks, feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, recurrent thoughts of death with an intent and plan to commit suicide, and a diminished ability to think or concentrate about anything other than his dead wife (APA, 2013). Additionally, these symptoms cause clinically significant distress in social and occupational functioning and the disturbance is not attributable to another medical or psychiatric condition or a substance (APA, 2013).

 The patient could also have complicated grief if he has experienced this bitterness, anger, suicidal ideation, and idealization of the dead for over 6 months. Risk factors for complicated grief include lack of social support, sudden or traumatic loss, relationship was very strong with his wife, personal history of mental illness, and other major life stressors (Boland et al., 2021).

 The gesture of placing the muzzle of the rifle in his mouth and writing the suicide note is beyond the “adaptive range” of grief for “White American Culture.” I must admit that it does not come across as “normal” to me to shoot a wolf, but I am from the city and I really cringe at anything having to do with guns and “Merica” but I am sure this is normal behavior for Alaska or whatever Arctic place he was located. 

Liam is at risk of experiencing existential isolationism (EI) since he is a male and from an individualized culture (Zhou et al., 2023). EI can cause prolonged and pathologic grief expressions because of negative beliefs about interacting with others and jaded preconceived notions about mental health care thereby causing the patient not to seek appropriate care or support from friends or family (Zhou et al., 2023). Liam may assume that others cannot understand his plight even if they have also experienced the death of a loved one and this will increase his loneliness.



American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.) American Psychiatric Association.

Boland, R., Verduin, M., & Ruiz, P. (2021). Kaplan and Sadock’s synopsis of psychiatry: Behavioral sciences/clinical psychiatry (12th ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

Zhou, N., Zhao, Y., Smith, K. V., Killikelly, C., Stelzer, E., Maercker, A., Xi, J., & Helm, P. J. (2023). Existential isolation and prolonged grief in bereaved people: The moderating role of culture. 

Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy

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