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  • Writer's pictureMichelle

Grief follows loss

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

  • Numbness

  • Anger

  • Loneliness

  • Yearning

  • Sadness

  • Relief

  • Guilt

  • Confusion

  • Irritability

  • Emptiness

  • Insecurity

  • Withdrawn

  • Vulnerable

  • Helpless

Our brain functioning might be disrupted, seeing us experience:

  • Disbelief

  • Disorientation

  • Impaired judgement

  • Difficulty in concentrating and focusing

  • Forgetfulness

  • Disorganisation

  • Distractability

  • Impaired decision making

  • Mental preoccupation

We can sometimes experience physical symptoms as a result of grief:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Stomachache

  • Headache

  • Digestive problems

  • Heart palpitations

  • Insomnia

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Noise sensitivity

  • Body aches

  • Muscle weakness

  • 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:

  • Crying

  • 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

  • Accepting assistance

  • Feeling disassociated from our beliefs or spirituality

  • Suicidal ideation

  • Exercising

  • 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.

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