Grief is a natural response and is described as the emotional suffering one may feel after a significant loss. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions during this time as coping with a loss can be one of life’s biggest challenges.
While grief is a personal experience and a process, mourning is how grief and loss are shown in public. Mourning can involve religious beliefs, seeing friends, preparing for a funeral and burial. During mourning, it is normal to feel numb or as though you are going through the motions. Grief and mourning happen after a person experiences a loss and together make up a time known as bereavement.
Though commonly associated with the passing of a loved one, there can be other causes of grief such as:
- Being diagnosed with serious illness
- Loss of a relationship or friendship
- Loss of financial stability
- Loss of health
Even more subtle losses in life can trigger a sense of grief such as moving away from home, retirement, graduating from college, or changing jobs.
The stages of grief
It is common to hear about the stages of grief after a loss; however, it is important to note that there is no “right” way to grieve as grief is a personal process unique to the individual circumstances. Some people may go through the stages as described, others may move back and forth between the stages, while others may not go through any of the stages.
The stages of grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
While loss affects people differently, many experience similar symptoms while grieving including:
- Fluctuations in weight
- Muscle aches and pain
An individual process
Though grief can be described in stages, how a person grieves depends on many factors including your personality, coping skills, your life experience, your faith, and how significant the loss was to you. The process of bereavement takes time since healing happens gradually, there is no specific time for some it may take months or even years depending on the person.
Acceptance does not mean you have forgotten about your loss, but that you are learning to adjust daily with the deceased.
Remember to take care of yourself
While grieving a loss is an inevitable part of life, there are ways to help cope with the pain and coming to terms with your grief.
- Accept that your grief can be triggered by a variety of experiences and emotions
- Acknowledge your loss and pain
- Seek out face-to-face support to avoid isolation
- Try to maintain your hobbies and interests
- Understand that your grieving process is unique to you
It is important to take care of yourself while you grieve as the stress of loss can deplete the physical and emotional needs that can help you through this time.
When to seek help
As time passes, it is normal for feelings of sadness, anger, or numbness to gradually ease allowing you to accept the loss and move forward positively. Though there is no set length for grieving, if you find yourself experiencing any symptoms of grief that may be overwhelming or if you need help processing a loss, seeking treatment can help. Group therapy or one-on-one sessions can help you to overcome some difficult feelings of grief that may prevent you from moving on.
Please seek professional help if you find that you feel that:
- Blame yourself for the loss
- Feel disconnected and numb from others that last longer than a few weeks
- Have difficulty trusting or interacting with others after a loss
- Life is not worth living
- Unable to perform normal activities
For more information on grief and our services or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office.