In the late 1960s, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe conducted research that resulted in the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), more commonly known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. This scale lists over 43 different life events that can cause stress. Each event, called a Life Change Unit (LCU), had a different “weight” for stress. The more events, the higher the score. The higher the score, the more likely the patient was to experience illness. Unfortunately the SRRS did not take individual differences into consideration by assuming that each stressor affects people the same way. Regardless it became an important study for better understanding how certain life events increased the chances of stress-related illnesses and health-related issues.
The Grief Recovery Institute® (GRI) has leveraged the Holmes-Rahe Stress Scale for the events that can produce the range of emotions we call grief. Since GRI founders John James and Russell Friedman feel that all grief is experienced at 100%, they have chosen to omit the mean value/scoring system. Since everyone is unique not all of the stressors listed might be viewed as grieving or loss events. As a result, they have added “intangible” events such as loss of trust, loss of safety, loss of faith, etc. which can also produce feelings of grief.
Their list of grieving events include:
- Death of a spouse
- Marital separation
- Death of a close family member
- Personal injury or illness
- Dismissal from work
- Marital reconciliation
- Change in health of family member
- Sexual difficulties
- Gain a new family member
- Business readjustment
- Change in financial state
- Death of a close friend
- Change to different line of work
- Change in frequency of arguments
- Major mortgage
- Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
- Change in responsibilities at work
- Child leaving home
- Trouble with in-laws
- Outstanding personal achievement
- Spouse starts or stops work
- Begin or end school
- Change in living conditions
- Revision of personal habits
- Trouble with boss
- Change in working hours or conditions
- Change in residence
- Change in schools
- Change in recreation
- Change in church activities
- Change in social activities
- Minor mortgage or loan
- Change in sleeping habits
- Change in number of family reunions
- Change in eating habits
- Holidays – Christmas, Thanksgiving
- Minor violation of law
- Loss of Trust, Loss of Approval, Loss of Safety and Loss of Faith, etc.
Since grief is defined as “the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior”, it is understandable why these events can produce the range of emotions we refer to as grief. It’s also important that we understand if we go through one of these events in our lives, it is normal and natural to have these feelings. For example, although moving is on the list how many of us have treated it as a grieving event? Probably not very many. Understanding moving can cause feelings of grief can help us to have a plan-of-action in advance for how to address it.
The same is true for all the events listed. If we recognize these events can cause feelings related to grief, we can address them honestly when they happen. We can also change the way that society has traditional viewed grief, as only the result of the death of a loved one. Knowing the scope and breadth of grief, can help future generations deal with grief more effectively.
Sending you love, comfort and peace!