‘Grief’ describes the human response to when a death or loss is suffered. Grief often involves emotional pain and suffering but is also natural and necessary after a loss. It may be felt immediately, or some time after the loss is experienced.
Everyone experiences grief in a different way, but there may be some common thoughts and feelings:
- Shock and disbelief or denial: ‘this can’t be so’
- Anger or guilt: ‘this isn’t fair’ ‘if only I had …’
- Sadness and depression: ‘I’m so alone’..’I feel low and sad’
- Confusion: ‘I can’t makes sense of my thoughts and feelings’
Grief can affect the capacity to function, including:
- Disrupted sleep
- Changes to appetite
- Exhaustion and restlessness
- Anxiety and irritability
- Disinterest and reduced ability to cope
The most overwhelming feeling can be, simply, the sense of loss and the struggle to adjust to that loss.
Moving Through Loss
Sometimes it is useful to help the mourning process by sharing your experiences with someone else. Expressing your feelings either by talking or perhaps writing or drawing can be therapeutic. Taking care of yourself physically – eating healthily and exercising – is important. Allowing others to nurture you is good. Trusting yourself to go with your feelings – cry if you feel sad, listen to emotive music, look through mementoes – can help to heal. Be easy on yourself.
Occasionally we can get ‘stuck’ in grief and need some support to learn to live with the loss, perhaps with the help of a counselor.