normal and they are needful; it is how we process loss.
There are different types of grief and are often labeled according to situation, duration, and severity
of symptoms. First there is normal grief that most people will feel at different junctures in their lives.
The second kind of grief is called by many names; complicated grief, persistent complex
bereavement disorder, separation trauma, traumatic grief or prolonged acute grief. The symptoms of
this type of grief are described as preoccupation with a loved one, excessive loneliness, longing and
yearning for the loved one, and difficulty doing everyday things without the loved one. The third on
is anticipatory grief which happens during the time that our loved one is sick and dying. This type of
grief helps prepare us for the impending loss.
Coping with loss can be painful, sometimes traumatic and is not limited to loss through death. Some
losses that can cause deep grief include:
Grief is hard and it certainly is not fun. The truth of the matter is many people are not equipped or
“ready” to deal with grief, so they seek out information to help them cope and may come across
contradictory advice. Let me list the ones that do not work.
make it worse in the long run. For real healing to happen, it is necessary for you to acknowledge
your pain and actively deal with it. Just know that it is OK and very normal to feel sad!
lonely when faced with loss. Crying DOES NOT mean you are weak. It is not your job to protect
your family or friends by pretending to be brave. Showing your true feelings can help them and
you. This is especially important when there are small children involved. They need to know that
it is normal to feels sad and cry and chances are high that you would validate their feelings and
support them in their pain. YOU DESERVE THIS TOO!
response to sadness; it’s not the only one. People show grief in different ways. What works for
one does not necessarily work for someone else. It is OK to grieve the way that feels right for
person to person.
your loss; not forgotten it. It is completely normal to move on with your life and keep the
memory of someone or something you lost as an important part of you. The truth is these
memories can become the most important way that we define ourselves.
Other helpful things to remember while you move through your grief is:
emotional roller coaster!
important that your physical self is maintained.
and if you don’t know, ask a professional.
There are 5 stages to grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While Kubler-Ross
created this to help explain grief, it was for the grief someone goes through when they find out they
are dying. Still, it is helpful in explaining what grief can look like and what you might expect when
Denial – The first reaction is denial. In this stage, individuals believe the diagnosis is
somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.
Anger – When denial of the situation is no longer an option, a person will become frustrated.
“Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”; “Why would
Bargaining – This stage involves the hope that an individual will not have to experience
grief. An individual will attempt to negotiate for an extended life in exchange for something
important to them. For example, a person could negotiate with God to attend a daughter’s
wedding in exchange for a reformed lifestyle, or say things such as “If I could trade their life
Depression – Loss of hope, “why bother?”
Other emotional symptoms you can experience includes:
you lost is gone; that it really happened. You still expect them to see them; to tell you it was a
grief. Feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness may be experienced during
this time and you may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.
not do. You may also feel guilty about feeling relieved if the person died after a long, difficult
with yourself, at God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you.
To help support yourself through your grief in the best way possible, remember to embrace your
feelings; it is ok! Try expressing them through journaling, writing a letter to yourself or loved one, or
scrap book a celebration of the life that was lost. Try to maintain hobbies and interests; there is
comfort in routine and doing the things that give us joy. Plan ahead for your grief triggers; this
includes all holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other milestones. Talk to friend and family who
may participate in get togethers; let them know what you are comfortable with talking about.
Emotional symptoms can turn into physical symptoms over time. These can include feeling
unbelievably tired, nauseous, easily catching colds, weight loss or gain, aches and pains in
various parts of your body, and sleeping to much or too little.
Sometimes our grief can turn into depression and it isn’t always easy to tell the difference. Grief can
be a roller coaster of emotions and you will experience good and bad days. Symptoms that may
suggest that you have moved into a depression, include:
If you question if your grief has turned into depression, consult with your doctor. I have had clients
ask if antidepressants can help grief. The answer is while medication can help relieve some of the
symptoms, it doesn’t treat the cause which is the loss. While numbing the pain sounds like a good
thing, the pain must be worked through and antidepressants will only delay the mourning process.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of complicated grief or clinical depression, talk to a mental health