Grief is something that we will all experience in life. But if you’re struggling to deal with grief, you may want to consider grief counselling to assist you with working through your feelings.
What is Grief?
Grief is a type of emotional suffering that is a natural response to loss. Grief affectspeople in many different ways and for different reasons – something that causes one person extreme suffering may hardly be felt by another. But it’s important to recognise that your grief is never unwarranted or foolish.
Losses in our life can profoundly affect our sense of self and our place in the world. The death of a loved one is the most common cause of grief and can have an intensely destabilising effect. But even seemingly small or subtle losses in life, like a
child moving out of home can trigger a sense of grief.
Some causes of grief may include:
- A relationship breakdown
- Death of a pet
- A health diagnosis
- A serious illness for a loved one
- Loss of a job or financial security
- Loss of the family home
- A miscarriage
- A traumatic experience.
Grief should always be met with empathy, and never with judgement. Even if another person doesn’t understand the loss you are experiencing, you shouldn’t feel ashamed of this very natural emotional response.
The Grieving Process
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and it does not normally happen in a linear fashion. After losing a loved one, for example, you may take some months to feel emotionally stable again, only to plunge back into suffering triggered by a memory or event.
The grieving process takes time, even years sometimes before you can begin to feel ‘normal’ more days than you feel griefstruck. Loss and grief is an individual experience that can’t be forced or hurried. Similarly, it shouldn’t be ignored or stifled. Rather, it can be helpful to get your feelings of loss out in the open and talk them through with someone you trust.
It is also important to note that when you move past the initial experience of grief, and can begin to enjoy life again, this does not mean that you have forgotten the person you have lost or the other cause of your suffering. Accepting your loss and learning to live with it is vital to continuing on in your life, but you don’t forget the people and experiences that were important to you.
Common Feelings Associated with Grief
Everyone will experience grief in different ways, but there are some common symptoms that you may feel when you are grieving. All of these are completely normal responses, and while they can be very difficult at the time, they will pass.
- Shock and disbelief. Many people who lose loved ones report feeling like they are in a bad dream
or an alternative reality. It can be hard to accept that what is happening is real. Feelings of numbness or difficulty to believe the truth are not uncommon.
- Guilt. In many instances of loss, people will feel guilty about what they did or didn’t do. You may feel that if you had acted differently, the loss you are experiencing – whether that be a relationship break up, the loss of a home, or a serious health concern – would not have occurred.
- Anger. Anger and resentment can feel like strange reactions to grief, but they are also quite normal ones. You may feel the need to blame someone for your loss, even if it wasn’t really anyone’s fault.
- Fear. Anxiety and insecurity are common for people experiencing grief. When you have lost someone or something important to you, facing life can feel terrifying. Death also can have the effect of causing us fear about our own
- Sadness. Grief is often characterised by deep, unrelenting sadness. It may take some time for this feeling of pain to pass. You may experience despair, feelings of emptiness and loneliness when you are grieving.
Alongside the emotional symptoms of grief, people also report a range of physical conditions associated with grieving. These can include fatigue, nausea, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, insomnia and lowered immunity. None of these are cause for additional concern, and your physical health should improve as your emotional stability returns.
How to Deal with Grief
The best way to deal with grief is to seek support from other people. Even though you may feel like withdrawing and being alone with your suffering, this will only prolong your pain and may even lead to more serious mental health issues.
Spending time with people you care about can be a good way to cope with grief. Some people will be awkward around a grieving person, this doesn’t mean you stop grieving to make them comfortable. You will find people who are able to be with you in your loss and grief and who you with feel more comfortable to share with.
Seeking help from a grief counsellor can help you to experience and express your grief and loss in a safe emotional space. An experienced counsellor can help you process these feelings without judgement but with empathy and compassion.