Grief and Loss

What is Grief and Loss?

Grief is the normal and natural response to loss. It might be the loss of a loved one or friend but there are many other losses in life including pets, jobs, dreams we have for our future, the end of an era. There are also more subtle losses including leaving friends and family, children leaving home, infertility.

What is a normal reaction to grief or loss?

Everyone’s journey is unique but it is usual to experience a range of emotional reactions, which come in waves. These can be really intense or quite subtle. You may wonder if the feelings will ever end but given the time they should begin to subside and be less dominant in your life. In time you begin to live with your loss and begin to move forward with your life.

The feelings, thoughts and changes may include:
Physically: Tiredness and fatigue, change in appetite, sleeplessness, crying, sighing

Emotional: Sadness, feelings of anxiety or panic, anger, heightened emotionality, guilt, overwhelmed, relieved or numb

Social: Tendency to withdraw from friends and family or to over depend on them, discomfort in social situations

Intellectual: Periods of confusion, aimlessness, lack of motivation, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness

Spiritual: Searching for meaning, re-examination of priorities, re-examination of religious/spiritual beliefs, ethical and philosophical, questioning

Grief in children and adolescents

Grief in children and youth may show in many ways that are not quite so obvious. For example butterflies in the stomach, headaches, anger, nightmares, lack of focus and concentration and maybe some behaviour that is not usual. It can be important to get help for children because if they don’t learn to cope with the hard events in their lives it may affect their coping skills throughout their lives.

Tips to manage your grief and loss

  • Grieve your way. No one can tell you how to feel
  • Allow yourself time to journey through the process. It will be a rollercoaster
  • Find a meaningful way to honour the person you have lost. It may be framing a special photo, writing down some special memories, planting a memorial plant
  • During the year there will be some events and anniversaries that will trigger your memories and the grief. Treat yourself kindly at such times

What to Do When Someone is Grieving:

LISTEN and hear what is being said.

ACKNOWLEDGE that each griever’s experience will be unique.

Do remember that nobody has to JUSTIFY their feelings.

Don’t prevent the bereaved from EXPRESSING their guilt and anger.

Allow the griever TIME to grieve.

HELP the bereaved to realise the deceased is not coming home.

Encourage the EXPRESSION of emotion and allow them to work through their grief.

Allow the griever time to TALK.

Encourage the EXPRESSION of emotion and allow them to work through their grief.

Permit CHILDREN to share in the grief process with the adults.

ENCOURAGE the griever to live and love again when they are ready.

Karinya Counselling Centres have supplied a fantastic resource to help manage your grief and loss.

Karinya managing grief

Contribution from Ruth Walker, Karinya Counselling Centres 

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