Most people experience grief when they lose something or someone important to them. Grief is a reaction to any form of loss. Bereavement is a type of grief involving the death of a loved one. Bereavement, grief, and loss can cause many different symptoms and they affect people in different ways.
As well as bereavement, there are other types of loss such as the end of a relationship or losing a job or home. Bereavement and grief encompass a range of feelings from deep sadness to anger. These symptoms can present immediately, after the loss or later on in life when a trigger occurs that is related to the loss. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- shock and numbness – this is usually the first reaction to loss, and people often talk about “being in a daze”
- overwhelming sadness, with lots of crying
- tiredness or exhaustion
- anger – towards the person you’ve lost or the reason for your loss
- guilt – for example, guilt about feeling angry, about something you said or did not say, or not being able to stop your loved one dying
Not only are people impacted psychologically by grief, but one’s physical health can be impacted when grieving a loss as well. These symptoms can also be felt immediately after the loss, or later on in life when a trigger presents that is related to the loss.
Some physical symptoms one may experience include:
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pains
- Muscle tension
- Appetite changes
- Rapid heartbeat
- Changes in sleep patterns
Grief is not limited to feelings of sadness. These feelings can be confusing. The grieving process often involves many difficult and complicated emotions. One person may find themselves grieving a painful relationship. Another may mourn a loved one who died from cancer and yet feel relief that the person is no longer suffering.
Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. Some people recover from grief and resume normal activities within six months, though they continue to feel moments of sadness. Others may feel better after about a year. Sometimes people grieve for years without seeming to find even temporary relief.
The process of adapting to a significant loss can vary dramatically from one person to another. It often depends on a person’s background, beliefs, and relationship to what was lost. It is never too early to get help with symptoms related to grief and loss. Getting help early while symptoms are mild can resolve the problem and prevent the grief from causing significant impairment in a person’s everyday life.
Whether the loss is due to death, a breakup, or other circumstance. One of the hardest challenges is adjusting to the new reality of living in the absence of the loved one. Adjusting may require a person to develop a new daily routine or to rethink their plans for the future. While creating a new life, a person may adopt a new sense of identity.
If these feelings are affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help. Individuals experiencing depression symptoms relating to grief, or simply need help managing it, can benefit from the support of a therapist who has has expertise in grief therapy. There is no right or wrong way to grieve but a mental health professional can help you to find healthy ways to cope with the pain and, ultimately, to move on.
Therapy can help with any sort of loss, whether society validates the grief or not. Therapy is an opportunity to explore your feelings and memories without judgment. No loss is too big or too small to warrant support. Many different therapy modalities can be helpful, enabling you to process your grief while also learning new ways to cope and build a meaningful life following a loss. You do not have to endure your grief alone.
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