Anyone who has experienced a major loss knows how incredibly devastating it can be. Loss of a loved one, a pet, a job, financial status, a breakup, an illness, or anything of real meaning can cause an array of difficult feelings such as grief, emptiness, despair, anger, shock, numbness, relief, sadness, and perhaps even physical pain in the body. And sometimes it may seem like the deep sadness will never let up.
While these intense feelings can be scary and overwhelming, it is imporant to know that grief is a natural response to loss. It is natural to suffer when someone or something of significance is taken away. Even losses like changing jobs or careers, selling a home, or loved ones moving away can bring up feelings of grief and loss.
If you are in the grieving stages of a difficult loss, it is so important to talk about those feelings. For some, the instinct may be to avoid feeling the hurt, but repressing those feelings indefinitely can prevent healing in the long run. Therapy provides a safe place for you to express and process the grief so that healing can unfold naturally.
Everyone grieves differently, and there is no right or wrong way. How you grieve depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the loss, coping skills and coping style, personality, and your spiritual beliefs. With time, healing does happen, and there is no set timetable for a person to grieve.
There is light at the end of the tunnel and it is important to be patient with yourself during this difficult time.
Common symptoms of grief
While loss affects people in different ways, many people experience the following symptoms when they are grieving. Just remember that almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal, including feeling like you are going crazy or feeling like you are in a bad dream.
- Shock and disbelief – Right after a loss, it can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they are gone.
- Sadness – Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.
- Guilt – You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. You may also feel gulty about certain feelings, e.g. feeling relieved when the person died after a long, difficult illness, or feeling relieved because you had ambivalent feelings about the person. After a death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing more you could have done.
- Anger – Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry at yourself, the doctors, God, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.
- Fear – A significant loss can trigger worry and fear. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.
- Physical symptoms – We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including fatigue, aches and pains, insomnia, weight gain or weight loss, and nausea.
These and other symptoms are normal and expected. Therapy helps to make your journey through grief more bearable. Call me!