a normal and natural internal reaction to a loss of any kind. Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change
in a familiar pattern of behavior.
The only thing that isn't normal
about grief is how our society responds to it. We are a grief and death denying society. We avoid talking about grief and
yet if left unacknowledged, can turn our lives upside down. People may develop addictions, relationship difficulties,
depression, anxiety, panic attacks and more when grief is left unresolved. In our world of instant messaging,
fast food and speed dating, we often wish or pretend that we can do "speed grief." However it isn't possible and
we must go through the pain in order to grow and heal.
can endure much more than we think we can; all human experience testifies to that. All we need to do is learn not to be afraid
of pain. Grit your teeth and let it hurt. Don't deny it, don't be overwhelmed by it. It will not last forever. One day,
the pain will be gone and you will still be there. - Harold Kushner, When All You've Ever Wanted Isn't Enough
There is no hierarchy of
"Every loss is unique. The
truth is, the worst loss is the one that is happening to you, the one that has picked you up and thrown you down and left
you struggling to put your life back together." - Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, author of The Empty Room: Surviving
the Loss of a Brother or Sister at Any Age
"No one ever told me that grief felt
so like fear." C.S. Lewis, famous writer
(coined by Ken Doka in 1987, professor at The College of New Rochelle
and senior consultant to the Hospice Foundation of America)
What types of losses are disenfranchised or unacknowledged?
- The relationship is not recognized (closeness of non-kin relationships, lovers, friends,
co-workers, classmates, in-laws, foster parents, step parents, neighbors, colleagues, step children, caregivers, counselors,
and roommates in college or nursing home). Also non-traditional relationships such as extramarital affairs, cohabitation
of unmarried people and homosexual relationships, ex-spouses, past lovers, former friends. All of these relationships could
or should cause grief reactions.
- The loss is not
- The griever is excluded (person
is socially defined as incapable of grief), so there is little or no social recognition of his or her sense of loss or need
to mourn. Both the very old and the very young are typically perceived by others as having the capacity
to grieve. Also people with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses may also be disenfranchised in grief. Although studies show that these people
do understand the concept of death, and experience grief, often these reactions are not perceived by others.
5 Mental & Physical Signs of Grief
by Howard Baker
Grief is something that most of us will have to deal with in our lives. And despite the fact that it’s
something which has afflicted humans pretty much since the dawn of our species, it’s something which it is very difficult
to prepare for.
It’s a difficult thing to define, but once you know what it feels like you’ll never forget it. It
can happen for a number of reasons, the most common of which is of course the loss of a loved one. Be it a family member,
a friend or a pet.
But that’s not the only time
that we experience grief. Because if you think about it, what really contributes to the sensation of losing a loved one? It’s
change, there has been a change in your life, something is missing.
So naturally, you can also feel grief
for any other kind of loss or change. Losing your job, or even changing your job and not having the environment that you’re
used to can lead to grief. Moving away from home is another cause.
Homesickness is probably just another
type of grief. Logically it would make sense and a lot of the symptoms are similar. Regardless, the most common cause is loss
of a loved one and so let’s consider said symptoms in terms of that so you can recognize them.
discuss some mental and physical signs:
This might seem like an odd one, but it’s actually perfectly natural to feel guilt after you’ve
suffered some kind of loss. Firstly, there is something known as survivor’s guilt, which is when you feel like the one you’ve lost didn’t deserve
to die more than you did.
The guilt that you get to continue when they don’t. There’s
also a sense of guilt that you could have somehow prevented the loss, or you could have at least done more. This might be
brought on by memories of fights and conflicts you had with a loved one before they died.
course, all of this guilt is probably unfounded. Usually there is very little we could have done and so it’s useless
to dwell on these feelings.
probably heard of the ‘5 stages of grief’ before, and so you would know that one of those stages happens to be
anger. Anger and sadness seem very different on the surface, but in reality they are quite similar.
the reason why you might feel so angry is because you can’t control what’s happening. It’s an overwhelming
sense of frustration that you just can’t shake because there’s nothing you can do. It’s normal, but you
have to try to control it so it doesn’t affect those around you.
3. Inability to Envision
Your Life Going Forward
You have become so used to having someone as a part of your life. Maybe
you saw them every day, or if not, they were just a phone call away. You may have relied on them for emotional support or
just for companionship.
Regardless, it was an irreplaceable piece of the puzzle that is now
gone, and you can never get it back. You might feel a sense of desperation because of this, and the feeling that because things
will never be the same, you can’t feel happy again.
4. Once Good Memories
If you’ve lost a person that meant a lot to you, one thing that’s
certain is that you have a lot of great memories with them. And when they’re gone, those once great memories just become
5. Wishing for Death
is perhaps the most dangerous sensation, but unfortunately it’s one that’s all too real. Especially common among
older people who have lost their longtime partners, and parents who have lost children, suicidal thoughts as a consequence
of grief happens a lot.
It might be because of feeling like you can’t live without them
or you believe you should have died in their place, or maybe because you want to join them in whatever (if anything) comes
next. No matter what the cause, if you feel this after a loss, it’s time to seek counselling.
is a funny thing because it seems to happen as a consequence of a lot of different triggers. Most of the time people don’t
actually vomit unless they’re very ill, but nausea is common for more than just illness or overeating.
and stress can also result in a sensation of nausea, and grief is a kind of stress in many ways. Grief can also affect your
appetite. It makes some people overeat and some people eat not enough and either of those can result in nausea.
2. Weight Loss
In line with what we discussed above,
weight loss can happen as a result of a change in your appetite. When your body is uneasy, your digestive system gets a little
unbalanced and is less receptive to food.
This doesn’t mean you don’t need to eat though and in all
likelihood you will actually feel a bit better if you because it will help you think better and boost your strength.
3. Hair Loss
You’ll see how all of this stuff
can be connected. The stress of grief leads to a diminished appetite, which in turn leads to your body not getting all of
the required nutrients for you to be healthy.
Your hair follicles will suffer for
this lack of nutrients too and become damaged, which can inhibit growth. You might also notice some of your hair actually falling out due to
the fact that the damage is causing fragile roots.
We associate exhaustion with physical exertion, but it’s really more broad than that. Emotional exertion
will sap your energy from you, or at the very least give you the impression that you don’t have any energy.
You will feel fatigued and never feel like doing anything except staying in bed and trying to sleep. The
worst thing about this is the fact that you probably won’t be able to sleep because your body doesn’t actually
weighs down on you. Think of your grief as a giant boulder that you are carrying around on your shoulders. In a way it is
because your body tenses up, assuming it needs to be ready for a fight.
And tension in your neck and shoulders
will eventually result in headaches. You could have any number of different kinds of aches and pains because of grief.
While there isn’t really a cure for grief aside from time to heal, recognizing these symptoms is
helpful. You can understand that the way you are feeling is just another side effect of the emotional trauma of loss.
And you can accept that although it will pass, it is just something that you have to endure right now.
It’s not easy, but humans persevere, and you can too.
(Sent to me by Howard Baker who wished to share this helpful information)
Quotes on Grief
- "Don't let anyone take your grief away from you. You deserve it, and you must
have it." - Doug Manning, Don't Take My Grief Away
- "Our grief lives with us long as we live...by the very act of weaving our losses into that tapestry,
we ensure that our losses are part of our wholeness." - Deborah Morris Coryell, Healing Through the Shadow
- "There are two great questions:
Where do you hurt? How can I help you?" - Edwin Shneidman
- "Yet some people emerge from their grieving process with unexpected gains. By weathering emotional tribulations
they had thought unendurable, they have a deeper, surer sense of their strength. By facing despair, and not succumbing, they
know their inner capacities in a more complete way. These gains do not in any way diminish the facts of the loss. But, yes,
are benefits. Dearly purchased, hard-earned benefits." - Steve Schwartzberg
- "There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you." - Maya Angelou