Topic 6 Other problems (grief, sleeping problems)

6.1. Grief. Normal and pathological grief.  

Grief corresponds to a painful and unexpected process in response to the death of a loved one and to any type of loss (school failures, situations of abandonment such as divorce, separation, parental rejection; family problems, moving house, financial problems, loss of employment, diagnosis of a serious or disabling illness…). It is a process through which we assume, assimilate, mature and overcome this loss.

The grieving process can be normal/uncomplicated or pathological. In the first case it is a normal response, with a predictable character of its symptoms and their development. It is usually brief, and is followed by expressions of grief and discomfort such as crying and sighing. The pathological grief is a process that may be absent or delayed, or the grief may be excessively intense and long-lasting (including suicidal ideation).

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (1969) first described the five phases of grief, although the process not always is linear:

  1. Denial

Denial of the loss is a very common reaction immediately after the loss, often accompanied by a state of shock (or mental block).

  1. Anger

The end of denial is associated with feelings of frustration and helplessness regarding one’s own ability to change the consequences of the loss. This frustration in turn leads to anger and rage.

  1. Bargaining

In the negotiation phase the person have the hope that nothing will change and that he or she can somehow influence the situation. The person think in possible deals to make life turn that it was, or that the death person come back. 

  1. Depression

In this period the person begins to come to terms with the reality of the loss, and this leads to feelings of sadness and hopelessness, social isolation or lack of motivation.

  1. Acceptance

After the phases of denial, anger, bargaining and depression comes acceptance of the loss and the arrival of a state of calm associated with the realisation that death and other losses are natural phenomena in human life. The acceptance phase relates to the inevitability of the loss, and therefore of the grieving process.

6.2. Sleeping problems

Sleep problems are conditions that disrupt a person’s normal sleep patterns and may be associated with a decrease in work performance and may therefore directly affect the professional performance of teachers. There are several sleep disorders, however, we will highlight some of the most important ones:

Insomnia Sleep apnea Hypersomnia Circadian rhythm disorders Parasomnia

Inability to initiate or maintain sleep, or to achieve adequate sleep duration and quality to restore energy.

A disorder in which breathing stops for ten seconds or more during sleep.

Not being able to stay awake during the day. It includes narcolepsy, which causes extreme daytime sleepiness, causing a person to fall asleep at any time of the day and in any context (which can lead to work and social problems).

Problems with the wake-sleep cycle that make it difficult to fall asleep and wake up on time.

Unusual behaviour such as talking, walking or eating when falling asleep, during sleep or waking up.

6.3. Early and warning signs for seeking help 


  • Common symptoms are feeling of weakness, loss of appetite and weight, difficulty concentrating, breathing and speaking, insomnia, dreams about the deceased person, guilty, anger, etc.
  • However, if you notice that the mentioned symptoms do not improve over time, and you still have painful and intense emotions that make it difficult for you to continue with your life à then, contact a mental health professional (psychologist and/or psychiatrist) to find a solution as soon as possible. Mental health is important as it is physical health.   
  • People who suffer a sudden loss or find themselves in catastrophic circumstances (such as an emergency crisis), those who are socially isolated, those who feel responsible for someone’s death (whether real or imagined responsibility), those who have a history of traumatic loss or those who had a relationship of intense dependence with the deceased are more likely to suffer a pathological mourning process.

Sleep problems

  • All of us can suffer from sleep problems at any time in our lives because of a identified cause or without.
  • However, if you notice that the sleep problems persist over time and they are affecting your life (academically, professionally or socially) à then you need to contact a mental health professional (psychologist and/or psychiatrist) to find a solution as soon as possible. Mental health is important as it is physical health.