Grieving is Different for Everyone

"You can postpone grief but you cannot avoid it. As other stresses come along, one becomes less able to cope if one has other unresolved grief."

You may experience any of the following when you grieve:

  • numbness, the sense that none of this is real - you're just imagining it
  • expecting your deceased loved one to come back and be able to resume life as usual
  • experiencing your loved one communicating with you after death
  • difficulty paying attention or remembering things as well as you did before your loss
  • a sense of anger, injustice, vexation or helplessness about your situation
  • feelings of incredible emptiness, loneliness, self-accusation or despair
  • guilt - if only you had done more, been nicer, not left home, etc.

The following are typical physical symptoms of grief:

  • difficulty going to sleep, or waking in the middle of the night
  • weight loss or gain; over- or under-eating
  • low energy or fatigue
  • headaches, chest pain or racing heart
  • upset stomach or digestive problems
  • hair loss

When you understand that grieving people have similar thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, you can be assured that what you are going through is completely normal. For example, mood swings (you feel fine one minute and then all of sudden you burst out crying) need not take you by surprise. What's more, it is entirely possible to have a decrease in symptoms for quite a while and then suddenly experience a 'relapse' when something reminds you of your loved one - or for no explainable reason at all.

What makes depression different from grief is the absence of positive feelings; a moment of awe at glimpsing a baby or a particularly beautiful sunrise or sunset, or hearing an inspiring peace of music. About 2 in 10 people develop a depressive disorder in the year following the death of a loved one, with symptoms beginning roughly in the third month. This is different from the deep sorrow which naturally results from losing someone you love. Some refer to that sadness as 'depression' when technically it's not.

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Chelsea's Parking Spot at Asheville High School

"Anything you lose comes round in another form."
~The Rumi