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What to Expect When You Are Grieving

by Legacy Staff

The natural healing process that occurs after a significant loss, 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

Jump to a Grieving Component:
Variables of Grief


Components of loss can include:


  • Shock, numbness, feeling of unreality
  • Helplessness
  • Vulnerability
  • Fearfulness
  • Sadness
  • Anger, irritability
  • Emptiness, loneliness
  • Guilt
  • 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.



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


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


  • Being unaware of others’ needs
  • Passivity
  • 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.


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