What is grief?
Grief is a natural emotional response to loss. It is the sadness and suffering you feel when someone or something dear to you is taken away. Pain of loss is real and can be overwhelming. The loss can come in so many forms, it’s nearly impossible to list them all. But categorically, here are some of the major areas of loss that can cause grief:
- Loss of a loved one
The loss can be a relative, a friend, or even a pet. It may be sudden or have developed slowly over time. The loss may be due to death, divorce, relationship breakup, miscarriage, or other tragedy.
- Loss of a job
Getting fired or being laid off is usually sudden. It can be an overwhelming feeling to suddenly have no job, no income, and no direction. While retirement, another aspect of job loss, is typically a planned event, it too can bring on feelings of sadness, for the fun times with coworkers, for that familiar routine, for a sense of purpose.
- Loss of health
This can range from a significant but recoverable illness to a permanent condition from which there is no return. The loss of health may be your own, a loved one, a pet, a significant other. It may be age related, or an accident leaving a person permanently disabled. The grief arises from the desire to return to happier, healthier time.
- Loss of money or financial stability
Loss of income may be tied to loss of job, gambling debt, stock market loss, or huge medical bills from loss of health. The bills and debt quickly add up and feel like a weight pulling you downward. These feelings can inhibit the afflicted from being able to pull themselves out of their tragedy and find a remedy.
- Loss of home
Saying goodbye to a home, whether it is yours or a parent, grandparent, or other loved one’s house, can be painful. Both the physical place as well as the people and memories associated make it challenging to find meaningful closure.
- Loss / realization of a dream or goal that will never be
This may be one of the most difficult aspects of grieving to put into words and deal with. Sometimes our goals and dreams are very specific and tangible and other times they evolve and take shape over time. However, when we realize that our great goals and dreams are can never be reached, a deep sense of loss takes their place.
Symptoms of grief
Loss affects people in different ways and as such the symptoms following the loss take many forms. Grief is a normal process, but how we experience it is very personal. Here are some of the common symptoms associated with grief:
- Shock and disbelief
Your first reaction to loss may be a numbing feeling, disbelief in the reality of what has happened. You may want to even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may involuntarily keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they’re gone.
A deep and profound sadness is the most universally experienced symptom of grief. The loss leaves you feeling empty and lonely. Life has changed and will never be the same. Despair or yearning for the past may leave you feeling emotionally unstable.
Do you regret something you did or said? Do you feel guilty about things you didn’t do or say? Even when the loss is out of your control, you may feel guilty for not doing more to try to prevent it.
If you have lost your partner, a job, your home, or a loved one, this can trigger a sense of worry and fear. Helplessness, anxiety over the future, and panic attacks are quite common, especially if you are now facing life alone without your significant other.
When you lose a loved one, you may be angry with yourself, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. It is common to feel the need to blame someone for the injustice of the loss and your new feelings of sadness and loneliness.
The waves of emotions can be overwhelming and cause fatigue. It may also be true that your appetite is gone, and your energy stores are being zapped.
Bereavement can often cause temporary digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, or nausea.
- Lowered immunity
The experience of grief can cause numerous physical and mental health consequences leading to a weakened immune system.
- Weight loss or weight gain
Surprisingly, grief and eating are closely connected. Some people lose their appetite and start to eat less, while others gravitate to comfort food, consuming more than they normally would.
- Aches and pains
Aches and pains are a common physical symptom of grief. Grief can cause back pain, joint pain, headaches, and stiffness. The pain is caused by the unusual amount of stress hormones being released, which effectively stun the muscles they contact.
Sleep issues are common during the grieving process. People who are grieving are more likely to take longer to fall asleep, wake up for periods of time after falling asleep, and find it difficult to fall back to sleep after waking up.
Support for grief and loss
The pain of grief often causes withdrawal from others. The grieving process pushes the bereaving individual into retreat. While the shock of the loss can be overwhelming, having the support of other people (family & friends) is vital to healing process. Not everyone is comfortable talking about their feelings, but in this circumstance, it is important to communicate them.
Sharing your loss can make the burden of grief easier. Don’t feel that every encounter with a friend or family member needs to include discussion about your loss. Just being around your loved ones can bring comfort. It is important not to isolate yourself.
ACT Teletherapy Is Here to Help
A great way to communicate your feelings and begin the healing journey is with the assistance of a mental health professional with experience in counseling strategies for grief and loss. An experienced therapist can help you work through those intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your healing. Contact us today for an online session. Access to help has never been easier.
$65 per 30 minute session
Our weekly video and voice plan allows you to schedule a video chat or a call with your personal therapist. Pick the method that works best for you (or do both!).
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You and your spouse or significant other can set up a call or video with your personal counselor. You can be in your home or office, together or separate. Get the relationship you deserve!