Grief after Loss

Grief is a natural response to loss.  It is the emotional suffering we feel when we no longer have someone or something we love.    Losing someone or something we love or care deeply about is very painful.

Grief happens both before the loss occurs (when the loss is expected or anticipated such as a child moving away or going away to college or a loved one with a terminal diagnosis) and after the loss.

While loss affects people in different ways, many experience the following symptoms when they’re grieving.

Shock and Disbelief The most overwhelming and common reaction to a sudden death is shock and uncertainty. This results in feeling disconnected to your feelings or to other people; it can seem as if you are living in a dream.
You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. You may keep expecting him or her to show up, even though you know he or she is gone.
Sadness You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.
Guilt You may feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. You may also feel guilty about certain feelings (e.g. feeling relieved when the person died after a long, difficult illness) you have.
Anger When you lose a loved one you may be angry with yourself, God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.
Fear You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.
Physical Symptoms 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.

The grieving process is individualized; there is no right or wrong way to grieve.  It is very common to experience all kinds of distressing feelings and to wonder if the sadness will ever go away.

Just remember that almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal—including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious beliefs.