People grieve in many different ways and with varying levels of intensity. Differences in grief reactions are determined by a variety of factors. Who the person was is a major determinant of a grief response. The strength of the attachment is another influential factor, as is the mode of death. Grieving the sudden death of a young child, for example, will most likely be very different than grieving for an elderly relative who succumbed after a lengthy illness.
Problems occur when grief becomes excessive in intensity or exists for an abnormally long time. This is commonly known as complicated grief and occurs in a variety of different ways. A chronic grief reaction is one that lasts for an exceptionally long time and never appears to come to a satisfactory resolution. The grieving individual responds to a loss from long ago with the full intensity and sadness one might anticipate from a much more recent loss.