What is grief?

Grief is a normal, natural response that follows a significant change or loss which may affect parts, or all, of someone’s life. Grief is a process of coming to terms with what has changed in life.

Everybody grieves in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to do it, and no timeline on how long you will be grieving for.

When people grieve, they are coming to terms with what has changed in their lives. Grief can also be delayed and not surface until some time after a loss has occurred.

Different types of loss

Grief can follow the loss of a loved one, home, pet, possession or livelihood. It can also follow a change in circumstances such as moving house, relationship breakdown or having your children move out.

Each person’s grief is unique, and they will grieve in a way that is right for them, regardless of the type of loss involved.

Signs of grief

Some people are open and expressive with their grief, for example crying, and wanting to talk, while others are more private, and may be reluctant to talk preferring to keep busy.

A grieving person may experience intense thoughts and feelings such as sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, disbelief, panic, relief, shame and nostalgia.

Grief can include both physical and emotional distress. Signs of distress can include:

  • crying and sadness (or a reluctance to cry)
  • feeling numb
  • difficulty sleeping and having nightmares
  • constantly feeling tired and depressed
  • changes to eating habits
  • difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • feeling tense, sick and having difficulty breathing
  • losing interest in family, friends and hobbies
  • disorientation and confusion.

Although grief can be very painful, you may be able to deal with your grief with the help of family and friends, or you may need some extra help.

Grief counselling will help you with:

  • Working through painful memories and emotions
  • Making your grief manageable
  • Learning to enjoy life again, without guilt
  • Acceptance