GRIEF IS EXPERIENCED UNIQUELY BY EACH OF US, OFTEN IN WAVES

GRIEF IS EXPERIENCED UNIQUELY BY EACH OF US, OFTEN IN WAVES

Grief is the natural healing process that occurs after a significant loss. It is experienced uniquely by each of us, often in waves, with emotional, cognitive, physical and social responses varying in terms of intensity, and duration of our reactions to the loss. There are many components of a loss, and many variables that can affect your grief reaction.

Emotional

  • Shock, numbness, feeling of unreality
  • Helplessness
  • Vulnerability
  • Fearfulness
  • Sadness
  • Anger, irritability
  • Emptiness, loneliness
  • Guilt
  • Carelessness, harming oneself or others in any way
  • Outbursts, euphoria
  • Slowed and/or disorganized thinking
  • Confusion, aimlessness, difficulty concentrating
  • Preoccupation, rumination
  • Unaffected, no thoughts at all about the person or the circumstances
  • Dreams
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Altered perceptions, sensing the presence of the deceased person

Physical

  • Fatigue, sleep disturbance
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Physical distress, nausea
  • Anxiety, hypo- or hyperactivity
  • Greater susceptibility to illness

Social

  • Being unaware of others’ needs
  • Passivity
  • Withdrawing from or avoiding others
  • Decreased work productivity
  • Loss of interest in usual pleasures, including hobbies and/or relationships
  • Strained relationships, differences in grieving needs between self and others

Your reaction to grief is unique to you, and affected by your experiences and beliefs. Here are some variables that can affect how you experience grief:

  • Your own history of past losses, deaths, divorce, relocation, lost dreams, life changes
  • Violations of one’s safety (accidents, fire, personal trauma, world crises), or health changes
  • Your current personal and situational stressors
  • Your personal beliefs in a faith tradition or spiritual practice
  • Your cultural and family expectations about loss
  • If the loss is anticipated or unanticipated
  • If the loss is marked by traumatic events
  • The degree to which closure with the person was possible
  • A “loss out of season,” for the person who has died or for you
  • Your ability to share the loss with others
  • Your coping style and use of stress management resources
  • Working through past hurts and forgiveness issues
  • Finding a way to make meaning of the loss

Grieving is a multifaceted, individualized process for which there is no definitive timetable. As you grieve, professional and community organizations, family and friends can offer helpful support, as can online resources.

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