Grief is a natural response to loss. It might be the loss of a loved one, relationship, miscarriage, pet, job or way of life. Other experiences of loss may be due to children leaving home, infertility and separation from friends and family. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief is likely to be.
Grief is expressed in many ways and it can affect every part of your life; your emotions, thoughts and behaviour, beliefs, physical health, your sense of self and identity, and your relationships with others. Grief can leave you feeling sad, angry, anxious, shocked, regretful, relieved, overwhelmed, isolated, irritable or numb.
Grief is a process that each person experiences in a unique way. It’s how you process, cope and learn to live with a significant loss. By allowing yourself to grieve and accepting the support of others you will begin to heal. You will not forget your loss but you will be able to look to the future with a sense of hope and find a way to live with your loss.
Grief has no set pattern. Everyone experiences grief differently. Some people may grieve for weeks and months, while others may describe their grief lasting for years. Through the process of grief, however, you begin to create new experiences and habits that work around your loss.
Getting through grief and loss
Grief is something that takes time to work through. While everyone finds their own way to grieve, it is important to have the support of friends and family or someone else, and to talk about your loss when you need to.
What you can do to help yourself
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Talk to friends and family about how you are feeling, or consider joining a support group.
- Take care of your physical health. Grieving can be exhausting so it is important to eat a healthy diet, exercise and sleep.
How to help a person who is experiencing grief and loss
Many people do not know what to say or do when trying to comfort someone who is grieving. However, often it is the simple offer of love and support that is the most important.
- Ask how they are feeling. Each day can be different for someone who is grieving; take the time to listen and understand what they are going through.
- Talk about everyday life too. Their loss and grief does not have to be the focus of all your conversations.
- Encourage them to seek help from their GP, a Psychologist, Counsellor or other suitably qualified Health Care Professional if their grief does not seem to be easing over time.