Grief is commonly associated with bereavement; we tend to think of grief as a reaction to death and dying. However the experience of grief can arise in most areas of life where things cease or change significantly. Relationship, employment, health and functioning losses are examples of situations that may precipitate a grief response.

Grief and loss can affect us in a various number of ways. Following is a list of possible symptoms –  you may experience some of them or all of them, and they may change over time.

Symptoms of grief

 

Emotions

  1. Sadness
  2. Loneliness or a sense of isolation, perhaps feeling like nobody understands you or your situation
  3. Anger or frustration about loss or changed circumstances; anger with yourself, the world, God, or the person you have lost for abandoning you
  4. Guilt – having regret for the things you did or didn’t say or do
  5. Numbness – feeling nothing at all
  6. Fear – feeling anxious or insecure about your future

 

Physical

  1. Stomach discomfort; nausea,
  2. Racing heart;
  3. Headaches, dizziness,
  4. Fatigue and difficulties with sleep – insomnia or broken sleep
  5. Appetite changes, eating less due to loss of interest in food, or eating more as a form of seeking comfort
  6. Weight loss or gain as a result of appetite disturbance

 

Cognitive

  1. Rumination about the loss. Thinking about the situation over and over again
  2. Negative thoughts about the people around you, the world at large and the future
  3. Preoccupation with lost ones; dreaming; hallucinations
  4. Behavioural
  5. Withdrawing from social interaction
  6. Absentmindedness, forgetfulness, an inability to concentrate
  7. Preferring to be in your comfort zone, possibly going out less and avoiding phone calls and visitors
  8. Ceasing or reducing activities or interests that you previously enjoyed – for example reading books, hobbies, daily walk etc
  9. Restlessness

 

These symptoms are also seen in an episode of depression; however unlike depression, in the case of grief and bereavement the symptoms are usually viewed as a reasonable and somewhat expected reaction to loss.

Coping

Many people falsely assume that grief simply gets better with time. Healing from loss is not a linear process and each person will have their own individual experience. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

It seems that talking about bereavement and death is often a difficult and uncomfortable prospect. Support for a grieving person can tend to come thick and fast in the initial stages, but peter off quickly.

When to seek help?

Grief can be an isolating and consuming experience. Some people feel they are expected to ‘get over it’ and ‘move on’. This can make it difficult to talk about feelings and experiences. Because of the impact that grief can have on feelings, thoughts, beliefs and behaviour, it may be useful to seek further support in coping with grief.

Grief counselling might be helpful if;

  1. You are having trouble accepting the reality of a loss
  2. Talking to others can be difficult e.g. they don’t know what to say
  3. You could benefit from having support in processing the pain of loss
  4. There were traumatic circumstances around a death or loss

 

Speak to your General Practitioner for referral to a psychologist or counselling service near you.

Written by Psychologist, Claire Marshall, whom specialises in the area of grief and loss at the CBT Professionals psychology clinic. CBT Professionals are a team of clinical psychologists on the Gold Coast with offices in Coomera and Nerang. Gold Coast CBT psychologists offer services to adults, children, and couples.

 

Disclaimer: Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only and is not intended to replace advise from your doctor or registered health professional. Readers are urged to consult their registered practitioner for diagnosis and treatment for their medical concerns.

 

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