Grief is a natural part of the human experience. Grief follows loss. Grief can be uncomfortable at best, devastating at worst. And grief can see us behaving in ways that are sometimes unusual…at least for us. At times, we can even feel like we are oscillating through a range of emotions every day or even every hour.
What is loss?
Loss might include the loss of a friendship or relationship, the loss of an object, the loss of some aspect of the self, or loss from a developmental change and could include the many losses we are feeling globally right now: loss of lives of those around us, loss of our health, loss of expectations that weren’t met, loss of freedom of movement, loss of income, loss of physical contact with other humans, loss of regular items in stores, loss of routine, loss of control over our lives, loss of faith in our leaders, loss of our sense of security and safety…the list goes on and on.
Some examples of loss:
Death of a friend, lover or family member
The ramifications of a global pandemic
A relationship ending
The loss of a job or income
Death of a pet
A change in your life circumstances, e.g.: becoming a new parent and the loss of life before children, your pre-school child beginning school, having to move house
Unfulfilled expectations, e.g.: imagining what married life might be life compared to the realities of marriage, realising that adult life is looks nothing like you thought it would when you were a teenager
Losing a treasured item, such as a piece of jewellery
Developmental changes, e.g.: impaired memory or movement as a result of accident or age
Grief is a normal reaction to loss, and while we all grieve in certain ways, there are things that are common to the grieving process.
Common emotional responses to loss:
Anxiety and fear
Our brain functioning might be disrupted, seeing us experience:
Difficulty in concentrating and focusing
Impaired decision making
We can sometimes experience physical symptoms as a result of grief:
Shortness of breath
Tightness in the chest
Increased or decreased appetite
All of this can see us behaving in ways that may seem strange or uncharacteristic for us or for those around us:
High risk behaviours
Becoming withdrawn and isolated
Yearning to do things and go places you used to do and go to
Talking about the loss
Engaging in compulsive or obsessive behaviours such as eating or drinking
Reaching out for support
Becoming agitated, aggressive or demanding
Feeling disassociated from our beliefs or spirituality
Getting lots of rest
Rest assured, while your experience is uniquely yours, you are not the only one to feel lost in grief. You are not going crazy. Wobbliness is to be expected. And help is never far away.