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
- Loneliness or a sense of isolation, perhaps feeling like nobody understands you or your situation
- Anger or frustration about loss or changed circumstances; anger with yourself, the world, God, or the person you have lost for abandoning you
- Guilt – having regret for the things you did or didn’t say or do
- Numbness – feeling nothing at all
- Fear – feeling anxious or insecure about your future
- Stomach discomfort; nausea,
- Racing heart;
- Headaches, dizziness,
- Fatigue and difficulties with sleep – insomnia or broken sleep
- Appetite changes, eating less due to loss of interest in food, or eating more as a form of seeking comfort
- Weight loss or gain as a result of appetite disturbance
- Rumination about the loss. Thinking about the situation over and over again
- Negative thoughts about the people around you, the world at large and the future
- Preoccupation with lost ones; dreaming; hallucinations
- Withdrawing from social interaction
- Absentmindedness, forgetfulness, an inability to concentrate
- Preferring to be in your comfort zone, possibly going out less and avoiding phone calls and visitors
- Ceasing or reducing activities or interests that you previously enjoyed – for example reading books, hobbies, daily walk etc
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.
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:
- You are having trouble accepting the reality of a loss
- Talking to others is difficult e.g. they don’t know what to say
- You could benefit from having support in processing the pain of loss
- There were traumatic circumstances around a death or loss
If you think you could benefit from the support of a psychologist, speak to your General Practitioner. To consult with one of our CBT Professionals psychologists, download our Psychologist Referral Fact Sheet, and take it with you to your extended consultation with your GP.
If you are ready to make an appointment, please give one of our friendly staff a call on 5551 0251.