Deep distress occasioned by the death of a loved one occurs in both animals and man. The dog who stops eating when his master dies until he himself succumbs is the extreme animal form of grief, while survivor suicide is the extreme human form. Grief is universal and an inescapable condition of living. Even in everyday life, small losses – a broken object, a rejection – produce episodes of "micro grief". Experiences and understanding of micro-grief helps in dealing with the chaos and overwhelming nature of the grief that follows a death.
The classic study in grief-related death was of all men in England and Wales over the age of 54 whose wives died during two months in 1957. The mortality rate during the first six months was 40% higher than the average for married men of the same age.