Grief – Part 1
Grief and loss are part of life and is experienced by most of us at some point in life. People deal with grief in many different ways, and not necessarily going through a predictable group of ‘stages,’ although some do. How people grieve can depend on the circumstances of the loss (e.g., sudden death, long illness, death of a young person) as well as past experiences of loss. There is no time limit on grief – some people get back to their usual routine fairly quickly, others take longer. Some people prefer time alone to grieve, others crave the support and company of others.
Below are just some of the range of experiences which can be part of uncomplicated grief:
- Symptoms of depression or anxiety, such as poor sleep, lowered appetite, low mood, feeling of anxiety – for some people the anxiety will be more obvious, for others the depression.
- A sense of the loss not quite being ‘real’ at first, or refusal to believe it has occurred
- Feeling disconnected from others, sense of numbness • Guilt about not initially feeling pain about the loss
- Worries about not grieving ‘normally’ or ‘correctly’
- Mood swings and tearfulness
- Guilt about interactions with the person who has died (e.g. I should have spent more time with her or I wish we didn’t have that argument)
- Waves of sadness or anger which can be overwhelming and sometimes suddenly triggered by reminders
- Seeking reminders of the person who has died, e.g. being in their home or with their belongings, or perhaps at times even feeling you see or hear the deceased person
- Guilt about gradually getting back to ‘normal’ life and at times not ‘remembering’ to feel sad
Coping with Uncomplicated Grief
Most people going through the pain described above will eventually adjust to the loss and return to normal life, although of course carrying some sadness about the loss. Most people do not require medication or counselling to manage uncomplicated grief, and should simply be supported to go through their individual grief process. It is important to maintain a healthy diet and some physical activity during this time. Some people may find it helpful to engage in counselling or to attend groups with others who have suffered a recent loss.
Check out Part 2 which will explore Complicated Grief Reactions.