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Grief is the emotional response to any type of loss. Throughout the course of our lives, we all experience a loss at some point. In fact, statistics show that 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them before 18 years of age. Feelings of grief and loss are not always associated with death, however, but commonly surface after a loss of some kind – whether it is the loss of a loved one, a severed relationship, a pregnancy, a pet, or a job. When a person loses something or someone valuable to them, feelings of grief can be overbearing. Grief can leave a person feeling sad, hopeless, isolated, irritable, and numb by affecting them mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Many people don’t know what to say or do when a person is grieving, but be sure to have patience with the individual (including yourself) throughout the entire process. There is no orderly way of passing through stages of anger, denial and acceptance. Everyone experiences loss differently based on their personality, culture, and beliefs, among many other factors. If you are having trouble coping on your own, or know of someone who could use extra support, a therapist can assist.
Common symptoms of grief
- Shock and disbelief: feeling numb about the event, having trouble believing it happened, denying it, or expecting to suddenly see the person you lost
- Sadness: crying, or having feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or loneliness
- Guilt: regret over things unsaid or undone, feeling responsible for the death or the event, or shame from feeling relieved by a person’s passing
- Anger: blaming someone for injustice
- Fear: feelings of anxiety, helplessness, and insecurity, or having panic attacks
- Physical symptoms: fatigue, nausea, weight loss or gain, aches and pains, and insomnia
Moving Through GRIEF AND LOSS
An important part of healing is knowing that you are not alone. Seek support from your friends, family, or faith, or join a bereavement support group. Sharing your loss can make the grieving process easier. Remember to take care of yourself; to eat, sleep, and exercise even when you’re too stressed or fatigued to do so. A healthy alternative is to seek the help of a professional therapist. A therapist can hold a safe environment and support you in activating/improving coping skills, reducing feelings of blame or guilt, and processing emotions like hurt and anger.