Grief & Loss
What is Grief & Loss?
Defining grief can be difficult, due to the way that each individual processes and copes with death or loss. Most commonly, it is described as an intense emotional response that typically causes feelings of sadness and loneliness as a response to losing something or someone you care about.
It is a natural process to go through, and can cause a fluctuation of different emotions depending on how each person responds. While grief typically lessens with time, there is no "correct" way to grieve and is a complex process that can affect our thoughts, actions, and behaviours.
Factors Affecting Grief & Loss
While grief is commonly linked with the death of a loved one, it can also be the loss of something you love such as a relationship, a job, or passion you used to have.
A variety of different factors can impact the coping process including:
Sudden or Predictable Loss
Depending on whether the nature of death is unexpected or predictable, this can influence the severity of how you cope with the experience. For example, events like suicide and chronic illnesses may differ in the way you experience symptoms and are able to prepare for the loss.
How close you are to the person and the type of relationship you had with them, such as a family member or friend, can further complicate feelings of grief and attachment.
Personal characteristics and behaviours, including age, personality, coping mechanisms, and previous experiences with loss can impact the healing process.
An individual's support network and quality of support received can either enhance or limit one's ability to process grief and loss.
What Are The Signs & Symptoms?
Body aches & pains
Disruptions in eating patterns (loss of appetite, overeating, indigestion)
Dizziness & Nausea
Trouble making or avoiding decisions
Difficulty thinking or concentrating on tasks
Hallucinations or dreams about loved one being alive
A sense of shock and disbelief
Feeling empty and a sense of loss
Guilt and self-blame
Isolating from social circles
Neglecting daily responsibilities (school, work, chores, etc.)
Neglecting self-care & needs (hygiene, eating, etc.)
Increased use of substances (alcohol, drugs, etc.)
Coping With Grief & Loss
There is no set timeline for how an individual should cope with feelings of grief and loss. It is not an easy process and can fluctuate in the way someone experiences mourning and loss. As you continue to process these feelings, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Accept your emotions
It is normal and understandable to feel a range of different emotions in the grieving process including feeling sad, angry, or guilty. However, it is also okay to experience joy and happiness, and resume daily activities to prevent ourselves from circling around feelings of pain and suffering.
Build a support circle
Look for people who you can connect with while being able to respect your boundaries. Isolating or avoiding the problem may intensify feelings associated with grief or create more complex issues down the line. Joining support groups or seeking professional help can also help to talk and work through feelings of grief and loss.
Understanding cultural practices
Different cultures have unique ways of celebrating life or mourning the death of a loved one. Recognizing the different cultural practices associated with loss can be a helpful way to provide closure, and build a sense of community with family and friends.
Creating a new tradition or practice can also be a way to preserve relationships, honor a loved one, and create opportunities for healing.
Taking care of yourself
Feeling exhausted can be a part of the process of healing. It is essential to allow yourself to take a break, and step back from different commitments if needed in order to look after your needs. For example, taking a semester off of school, or time off work can help give you the time and space to process, cope, and adjust to the transition.
It is always best to talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you might have. This page should not be used as a resource to self-diagnose.
Grief & Loss Infographics & Tip Sheets
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