What is grief? Grief is an overwhelming sense of loss and sadness. Lots of things can trigger grief, including the death of a loved one or the loss of a beloved pet, and although grief is a perfectly natural emotion, some people find it very hard to cope with and struggle to work their way through the grieving process.
Grief is a normal response to the loss of someone or something we felt an intense bond with. Everyone copes with loss differently and grief can affect us in many different ways. Some people channel their grief in a positive way and use the experience to help them move forward in life, but others struggle to deal with the intense emotional pain of grief and become depressed or even suicidal as a result of their loss.
What are the recognized stages of grief?
There are five recognized stages of grief that we all go through. Some stages take longer to work through than others as everyone’s emotional response is different, and you may find that you do not experience all or indeed any of the stages—but this is perfectly normal: grieving is an individual thing, just like we are.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross devised what is now known as the five stages of grief following her work with patients suffering from terminal illnesses, although the stages of grief can apply to any form of loss, from the end of a relationship to the death of someone close.
1. Denial—you find it hard to believe that this has happened at all and for a while you might even pretend it has not happened.
2. Anger—you feel intense anger towards the person or situation that is causing you such emotional pain and you feel the urge to blame someone for the pain you are feeling.
3. Bargaining—you make bargains with yourself, with God, or with anyone, promising that you will do A, B or C if things were different and this awful thing had not happened.
4. Depression—you sink into a deep depression, unable to look forward to anything and unwilling to do anything but wallow in your grief and pain.
5. Acceptance—finally you accept what has happened and come to terms with it. You are still sad, but no longer grieving in the same way as you were.
What is grief and what are the symptoms of grief?
Grief affects us all differently, but it is perfectly normal to experience lots of different feelings and emotions in the early stages of the grieving process. You might be angry, shocked, or even disbelieving that this has happened to you. You might also feel guilt, even if you were not to blame and there was nothing you could have done or said to prevent what happened. Fear is also a common emotion in the early stages of grief. This can manifest as a deep sense of insecurity or anxiety and can trigger other psychological problems such as agoraphobia and panic attacks.
Treatment for grief
The best way to cope with grief is to enlist the support of others to help you get through it. Lean on your friends and family and ask for help in dealing with the practical things until you feel stronger. But if you are struggling to cope, consider making an appointment to see a grief counselor who can help you work through your emotions and find peace once again.