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What to Expect When You Are Grieving

Flickr Creative Commons / martin

Grief is experienced uniquely by each of us, often in waves.

Grief is the natural healing process that occurs after a significant loss. It is experienced uniquely by each of us, often in waves, with emotional, cognitive, physical and social responses varying in terms of the intensity, duration, and order of our reactions to the loss. There are many components of a loss, and many variables that can affect your grief reaction.

Emotional components of loss can include:

Shock, numbness, feeling of unreality
Anger, irritability
Emptiness, loneliness
Carelessness, harming oneself or others in any way
Outbursts, euphoria

Are you grieving the loss of a loved one? Find comfort in one of our grief support groups.

Cognitive components of loss can include:

Slowed and/or disorganized thinking
Confusion, aimlessness, difficulty concentrating
Preoccupation, rumination
Unaffected, no thoughts at all about the person or the circumstances
Decreased self-esteem
Altered perceptions, sensing the presence of the deceased person

Physical components of loss can include:

Fatigue, sleep disturbance
Decreased or increased appetite
Physical distress, nausea
Anxiety, hypo- or hyperactivity
Greater susceptibility to illness

Social components of loss can include:

Being unaware of others' needs
Withdrawing from or avoiding others
Decreased work productivity
Loss of interest in usual pleasures, including hobbies and/or relationships
Strained relationships, differences in grieving needs between self and others

Although everyone experiences bereavement and grief differently, that doesn't mean that you have to do it alone. Join one of our grief support groups.

Your reaction to grief is unique to you, and affected by your experiences and beliefs. Here are some variables that can affect how you experience grief:

Your own history of past losses, through deaths, divorce, relocation, lost dreams, phase of life changes
Violations of one's safety (accidents, fire, personal trauma, world crises), or health changes
Your current personal and situational stressors
Your personal beliefs in a faith tradition or spiritual practice
Your cultural and family expectations about loss
If the loss is anticipated or unanticipated
If the loss is marked by traumatic events
The degree to which closure with the person was possible
A "loss out of season," for the person who has died or for you
Your ability to share the loss with others
Your coping style and use of stress management resources
Working through past hurts and forgiveness issues
Finding a way to make meaning of the loss

Grieving is a multifaceted, individualized process for which there is no definitive timetable. As you grieve, professional and community organizations, family and friends can offer helpful support, as can online resources like this website.

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Information from The Center for Grief Recovery, a full service, non-profit nationwide counseling center helping persons who are dealing with emotionally intense experiences such as grief, loss, trauma, depression, or abuse.