Normal bereavement and major depression share many of the same symptoms. And because of those similarities, psychiatrists have historically carved out what is known as a "bereavement exclusion." Its purpose was to reduce the likelihood that normal grief would be diagnosed as clinical depression.
For most of us, our parents serve as elements of safety and stability, a constant amidst the flux of everyday life. When they die, we lose a tangible piece of that security, which can leave us feeling extremely off balance—even if we knew it was coming due to a long-term illness or extreme old age.
This is what it looks like when you grieve the death of an estranged parent. It’s this surreal thing, where everyone expects you to feel something—yet you don’t. For me, it didn’t feel like I lost a parent, or a loved one, or even a close friend. It felt like I’d lost what could have been.
There are various developmental theories that go into the tool kit that parents and educators utilize to help mold caring and ethically intact people, including those of Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget and American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg.