Grief is the natural human reaction to loss. Different individuals experience grief differently, and feelings of grief stick around for different periods of time depending on an individual’s circumstance. Most often we associate grief with the death of a loved one, but people also grieve over things such as the loss of a significant relationship, losing a job, needing to sell one’s home, learning of a terminal diagnosis, loss of a pet, and more.
Grief can feel both overwhelming and numbing to those experiencing it. While it is different for everyone, often the pain of the loss diminishes over time as the individual becomes more and more accustomed to the new reality of life without the grieved person or thing.
The reality is, the loss of anything can cause someone to grieve. Grief can be subjective, and what might cause me grief might have little impact on someone else, and vice versa. It is important not to judge your own (or anyone else’s) grief for this very reason. Typically, grief is associated with a significant loss of person, pet, or thing (such as a job or a home). However, grief takes many forms. While grief is a completely normal part of life, it may become problematic when one loses the ability to function for prolonged periods of time due to their grief. People may become depressed or suicidal.
It is difficult to pinpoint symptoms of grief, because everyone experiences it differently. That being said, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a well-known Swiss psychiatrist who studied grief and loss, created a model which identifies five stages of grief. It is believed that most people travel through these five stages when grieving. The stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. In addition to the accompanying emotions that each stage naturally produces, there can be physical symptoms associated with grief as well, such as having digestive issues, fatigue, headaches, sore muscles, and chest pain.
The reality is, all of us are at risk for grief, because we all have something to lose. However, certain groups may be at a higher risk, such as those who love someone fighting a terminal illness or those who have recently lost a spouse, a job, or are facing a significant change. Additionally, it is important to note that while we are all at risk for a potential loss, individuals who already suffer from depression or low self-confidence might struggle to cope with a loss when compared to those without additional mental health concerns.
If you are experiencing a life threatening emergency please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room