Grief & Loss
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can also disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight. These are normal reactions to loss—and the more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be.
Grieving is most associated with the loss of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief, including:
- Losing a job
- Divorce or a relationship ending
- Loss of financial stability
- A miscarriage
- Death of a pet
- Loss of a friendship
- Loss of health
- A loved one’s serious illness
The Grieving Process
If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. However, not everyone who grieves goes through all of these stages—and that’s okay. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go through each stage in order to heal. In fact, some people resolve their grief without going through any of these stages. And if you do go through these stages of grief, you probably won’t experience them in a neat, sequential order, so don’t worry about what you “should” be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in.
- Denial: This first stage is shock and disbelief. You may feel numb, deny the truth, or have a tough time believing that it happened.
- Anger: This stage you may experience anger even if the loss wasn’t anyone’s fault. You may blame yourself, others, or the person that is no longer here for the injustice that was done to you.
- Bargaining: In this stage, you bargain with a higher power, fate, or yourself to restore life as you knew it before the loss. Normally this occurs when there is still hope that things could turn around.
- Depression: When bargaining doesn’t work out as planned, a feeling of hopelessness can sink in. This takes a toll on your mental and emotional state.
- Acceptance: The final stage is recognizing that this is the new reality. It does not mean that everything returns to normal or is okay, but it does mean that you are coming to terms with the loss.
When to Seek Professional Help
The grieving period can be an overwhelming and difficult time, especially without emotional support from close friends and family. Sometimes, even that is not enough, and you still end up feeling lost and alone. Prolonged grieving often leads to severe depression that keeps one from getting on with their career and responsibilities as a friend, spouse, student, employee or parent. There is a fine line between wellness and uncontrollable emotional distress, and the loss of a loved one can be the critical tipping point.