Grieving is the natural process we go through in response to loss of many kinds e.g. death, permanent injury, losing a job, relationship breakdown, or any variety of life change. When we are in the midst of grief we feel it will never end, that we might always feel as we do now and may even see it hard to imagine any future happiness. The loss of someone significant, through death, though sometimes through separation, can be one of the hardest things to experience in our life. Other losses such as loss of a job, loss of good health, or major life changes such as retirement, can cause the same symptoms of grief.
Grief takes time to work through. There are no hard and fast guidelines. It takes as long as it takes, but as a general rule it will take longer than you expect. Try not to get over it ‘too quickly’ nor adopt a ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude. Grief is inevitable, normal, and an entirely human response. We may not grieve much immediately, but weeks, maybe months later we start to feel upset and painfully aware of our loss. Everyone’s experience of loss is entirely individual. No one can tell you how you will or should feel. Even people in the same family may grieve in different ways. Some may wish to celebrate the life to the deceased; others show their tragedy and sorrow in a more visible way. Some are quiet and low key, others may wish to talk of their loss at length.
Symptoms of normal grief:
- Feeling numb at first, as if paralysed
- Disbelief, unable to acknowledge the person is really dead
- Crying uncontrollably, unable to function as normal
- Guilty for surviving, not having said goodbye, leaving things unresolved
- An aching void, a profound sense of emptiness, something that will never be filled again
- Whether it was sudden or not, you may feel traumatised by the event, especially if it has been violent in some way, such as an accident, suicide or murder
- The wide spectrum of powerful emotions that ensue can leave us feeling worn out, exhausted and confused
Some self-help advice:
- Accept that mourning takes some time, you can’t hurry it along
- If you feel like crying then do it. If you don’t want to cry in front of others find a safe and quiet place alone
- Don’t be afraid to accept help from others, either friends or relatives, even professionals such as religious ministers etc
- If you feel the need to talk about your loss, don’t be afraid to do so, even if you need to do so again and again
- If you’re worried about over using friends and family consider talking to a counsellor or other forms of professional help
- Think about practical ways to ease you’re pain e.g. writing a letter to the deceased, perhaps saying what you didn’t manage to say in your lifetime; plant a tree or shrub in their memory; light a candle on special days.