What is grief?
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to loss—and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be.
Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life’s biggest challenges. You may associate grieving with the death of a loved one, which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief, but any loss can cause grief, including:
– Divorce or relationship breakup
– Loss of health
– Losing a job
– Loss of financial stability
– A miscarriage
– Death of a pet
– A loved one’s serious illness
– Loss of a friendship
Even subtle losses in life can trigger a sense of grief. For example, you might grieve after moving away from home, graduating from college, or changing jobs. Whatever your loss, it’s personal to you, so don’t feel ashamed about how you feel, or believe that it’s somehow only appropriate to grieve for certain things. If the person, animal, relationship, or situation was significant to you, it’s normal to grieve the loss you’re experiencing. Whatever the cause of your grief, though, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can ease your sadness and help you come to terms with your loss, find new meaning, and eventually move on with your life.
Grieving is a highly individual experience; there’s no right or wrong way to grieve. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and how significant the loss was to you. Inevitably, 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. How to deal with the grieving process.
The 5 stages of grief
Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
Physical symptoms of grief
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.
While grieving a loss is an inevitable part of life, there are ways to help cope with the pain, come to terms with your grief, and eventually, find a way to pick up the pieces and move on with your life.
– Acknowledge your pain.
– Accept that grief can trigger many different and unexpected emotions.
– Understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
– Seek out face-to-face support from people who care about you.
– Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
– Recognize the difference between grief and depression.
– Join a support group
– Express your feelings in a creative way
– Try to maintain your hobby and interest
– Look after your physical health
Should I use antidepressants for grief?
As a general rule, normal grief does not warrant the use of antidepressants. While medication may relieve some of the symptoms of grief, it cannot treat the cause, which is the loss itself. Furthermore, by numbing the pain that must be worked through eventually, antidepressants delay the mourning process. Instead, there are other steps you can take to deal with depression and regain your sense of joy in life.
When should I search for professional help?
If you’re experiencing symptoms of complicated grief or clinical depression, talk to a mental health professional right away. Left untreated, complicated grief and depression can lead to significant emotional damage, life-threatening health problems, and even suicide. But treatment can help you get better.
Contact a grief counselor or professional therapist if you:
– Feel like life isn’t worth living
– Wish you had died with your loved one
– Blame yourself for the loss or for failing to prevent it
– Feel numb and disconnected from others for more than a few weeks
– Are having difficulty trusting others since your loss
– Are unable to perform your normal daily activities