You may feel like your world has been turned upside down and you’re paralyzed, not knowing what to do next. One moment you’re experiencing deep sadness, the other anger or even numbness. At times overwhelming feelings may feel insurmountable; other times, you actually feel peace. All of this can be confusing. This is grief.
Grief is a natural response to loss. There’s no “normal” timetable and typically no right or wrong way to grieve. It is important to allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling in the moment and to try not to judge yourself for your feelings. There are 3 types/stages of grief that a person goes through:
- Acute grief occurs in the early period after a loss and often dominates the life of a bereaved person; strong feelings of yearning, longing and sorrow are typical. Other painful emotions, including anxiety, anger, remorse, guilt or shame are also common. Activities are often focused on doing or not doing things to try to deal with the loss.
- Integrated grief is the lasting form of grief in which loss-related thoughts, feelings and behaviors are integrated into a bereaved person’s ongoing functioning; grief has a place in the person’s life without dominating.
- Complicated grief is a persistent form of intense grief in which maladaptive thoughts and dysfunctional behaviors are present along with continued yearning, longing and sadness and/or preoccupation with thoughts and memories of the person who died. Grief continues to dominate life and the future seems bleak and empty. Irrational thoughts that the deceased person might reappear are common and the bereaved person feels lost and alone.
Although not everyone grieves the same way, there are common emotions and feelings that people experience. Please note there is no particular order in which you may experience these symptoms and you may re-experience them over and over.
- Shock – It can be hard to believe what happened or wrap your mind around the idea your loved one has died. You may even feel “ok” for a while and go on as if you’re loved one is still alive.
- Sadness – A profound sadness is extremely normal, as well as feeling empty and lonely.
- Guilt – Some people feel regret and guilt over what they did or didn’t do while their loved one was still alive. Others feel guilty for simply being alive, while their loved one is gone.
- Anger – Often people may feel angry that their loved one is dead or angry towards their loved one for dying. This is normal. There is a tendency to not allow oneself to be angry because your loved one didn’t choose to die (at least in most cases). If you feel angry, it’s ok. The goal is to try not to judge yourself and experience your emotions.
- Fear – A significant loss may trigger anxieties about living without your loved one or your own mortality. It can disrupt a sense of security or safety you had while that person was alive
- Physical symptoms – Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach issues, fatigue, and insomnia are very common in those experiencing the death of a loved one.
Although you have experienced a loss and may not feel as though you will ever be the same, healing is possible. It may take time and it’s okay that it does. By allowing yourself the space to grieve, it can become possible to find a way to live with the loss of your loved one and to be able to experience the joys of life that may feel forever gone. Support is very important in helping one move through grief. Sharing your story with someone can help ease your pain, process so many of the complex feelings you may be experiencing, and aid in feeling less alone. Call us today to schedule an intake if you are struggling, you are not alone.
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