Everyone greives differently:
Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on
many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your
faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens
gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried – and there is no “normal” timetable
for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others,
the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s
important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
Common symptoms of grief:
While loss affects people in different ways, many people experience the following
symptoms when they’re grieving. Just remember that almost anything that you experience
in the early stages of grief is normal – including feeling like you’re
going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious
- Shock and disbelief – Right after a loss, it can be hard to
accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really
happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting
them to show up, even though you know they’re gone.
- Sadness – Profound sadness is probably the most universally
experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning,
or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.
- Guilt – You may regret or feel guilty about things you did
or didn’t say or do. You may also feel guilty about certain feelings (e.g.
feeling relieved when the person died after a long, difficult illness). After a
death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even
if there was nothing more you could have done.
- Anger – Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you
may feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry at yourself,
God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel
the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.
- Fear – A significant loss can trigger a host of worries
and fears. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic
attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of
facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.
- Physical symptoms – We often think of grief as a strictly
emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including fatigue,
nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.
Coping with grief and loss tip: Get support!
The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other
people. Even if you aren’t comfortable talking about your feelings under normal
circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving. Sharing
your loss makes the burden of grief easier to carry. Wherever the support comes from,
accept it and do not grieve alone. Connecting to others will help
Finding support after a loss
- Turn to friends and family members – Now is the time to lean
on the people who care about you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient.
Draw loved ones close, rather than avoiding them, and accept the assistance that’s
offered. Oftentimes, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what
you need – whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or help with funeral arrangements.
- Draw comfort from your faith – If you follow a religious tradition,
embrace the comfort its mourning rituals can provide. Spiritual activities that are
meaningful to you – such as praying, meditating, or going to church – can
offer solace. If you’re questioning your faith in the wake of the loss, talk
to a clergy member or others in your religious community.
- Join a support group – Grief can feel very lonely, even
when you have loved ones around. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced
similar losses can help. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact
local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, and counseling centers.
- Talk to a therapist or grief counselor – If your grief
feels like too much to bear, call a mental health professional with experience
in grief counseling. An experienced therapist can help you work through intense
emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving.