“Nothing prepares you for the pain, all I want is for it to go away, it occupies my daily thoughts, nothing is the same anymore, it hurts too much”
What is Grief?
Grief is a natural, emotional response to losing someone or to some event that we have suffered from or experienced, it is assumed that grief arises purely from losing a loved one, this is untrue, we can feel grief for any of the following, this list is by no means exhaustive.
- Death of a loved one
- Loss of a relationship/separation/divorce
- Loss of a pet
- Loss of a job
- Loss of a limb or previous health/lifestyle
- Loss of a friendship
- Loss of a house or other major possession
- Loss of money
- A response to a current or past trauma
- How someone has treated you
- A national event such as the death of someone famous or 9/11.
Often because people haven’t been able to realise that the symptoms, they are feeling for any of the above events is grief, they have been unable to choose the right intervention to help them move forward.
Grief isn’t about getting over something, it is about learning to walk along a new path in life, one that looks almost identical to the one you previously walked along, for example, you may be driving the same car, wearing the same clothes, listening to the same music, doing the same job but there is a difference to this new path. It may be that a loved one is no longer there, or you are no longer with a partner for example. So, it is more about learning to walk the new path in your life, the one that looks almost identical to the old one.
Grief can be very painful and intense, there is a saying that time is a healer. Time doesn’t heal, what time does is give you the space to resolve your grief.
What are the Symptoms of Grief?
There are physical and emotional symptoms for grief:
Physical – Tiredness, pain, aches, susceptible to falling ill, unable to eat or drink, insomnia or oversleeping, losing weight, drinking too much alcohol, self-sabotaging behaviour.
Emotional – shock, betrayal, abandonment, anger, denial, bargaining, acceptance, depression, sadness, low mood, crying, numbness, guilt, unable to find joy, frightened, unable to cope, feeling overwhelmed, distress.
The most important thing to realise is that all the above feelings are completely normal.
What is peculiar about grief and the feelings it engenders is that the symptoms are by no means linear, I call it kangarooing, you literally bounce from one symptom to another and back again, there is no sense or logic to the feelings that you will experience, in one moment you can bounce from being happy, to sad to crying and feeling guilty, it is no wonder that when we are experiencing grief we feel that we are losing our minds or our sanity.
Nothing prepares us for grief, we don’t go to grief school to know how to deal with it and that is because we all feel differing levels of grief at different times in different ways, one person’s devastation over losing someone close might be another’s shrug of the shoulders and so on.
The most important thing you can do for your grief is to seek help, it won’t go away, your symptoms will keep building up like a pressure cooker, not dealing with it, will unnecessarily elongate and hinder your recovery process.