Grief is:

  • Completely normal. It's very human to react to losses with a multitude of emotions, including sadness, anger, shock and numbness.
  • Complicated. The grieving process can look different for different people based on:
    • The type of attachment one had to the loss.
    • The nature of the loss.
    • One's prior mental health status.
    • The number of losses endured in one's life.
    • The suddenness or expectedness of the loss.
  • Draining. Grieving is something we do with our whole being. It can cause physical symptoms (e.g., exhaustion, chest pain, upset stomach), emotional symptoms (e.g., irritability, guilt, sadness, anxiety), and mental symptoms (e.g., poor concentration, loss of focus, helplessness).
  • Important. Until we acknowledge and do something with our grief, it will remain, taking up our mental and emotional reserves.

Grief occurs in response to the loss of someone or something. The loss may involve:

  • The end of a relationship.
  • A move to a new community.
  • The death of a friend, family, important person or pet.
  • Life-threatening illness of a loved one.
  • Loss of a much anticipated opportunity, a life goal, or one's sense of security.

Ways to move towards healing

  • Talk with good friends, family members or a personal counselor in order to help you do this vital work. You can also do a good deal to help yourself.
  • Allow time to experience your thoughts and feelings openly with yourself.
  • Acknowledge and accept all feelings, both positive and negative.
  • Use a journal to document the healing process. Try writing for 15 minutes, four days per week.
  • Confide in a trusted person and tell the story of the loss.
  • Cry about it. Scream into a pillow. Go on a run. Let your emotions out.
  • Identify unfinished business. Work towards resolution.
  • Remember that there is no deadline for being over your grief.
  • Expect and accept some reduction in your usual efficiency and consistency.
  • Try to avoid taking on new responsibilities or making major life decisions for a time.
  • Allow yourself to enjoy, without guilt, some good times.
  • Tell those around you what helps you and what doesn't. Most people would like to help if they knew how.
  • Plan for special days, such as holidays /anniversaries. Feelings can be intense at these times.
  • Pray, meditate or take quiet time.
  • Connect on the Internet. There are many resources for people in grief, as well as opportunities to chat with fellow grievers.
  • If you are religious or spiritual, seek out resources that align with these values, such as speaking with clergy, being out in nature, etc.
  • Do something to help someone else. Time away from your own grief process can be helpful, too.

Factors that hinder the healing process

  • Avoidance or minimization of one's emotions.
  • Use of alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.
  • Use of work, schoolwork and constant socializing to avoid feelings.