“Grief is a journey, often perilous and without clear direction,” writes author Molly Fumia. “The experience of grieving cannot be ordered or categorized, hurried or controlled, pushed aside or ignored indefinitely. It is inevitable as breathing, as change, as love. It may be postponed, but it will not be denied.” 1

Fumia expresses it well. When we are grieving the loss of someone we love, there are no “normal” reactions, no expectations of how a person “should” respond. Often the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological issues are deeply over whelming and life can feel difficult for some time.

We understand that grief is an expected response to a significant loss, but are often unprepared to understand the unfamiliar, intense emotions that can arise. Feelings of helplessness, fear, and isolation can overwhelm us, leaving us struggling deeply. The word “grief” is a derivative of the French word “greve,” which means a heavy burden. Grief is a heavy burden to carry.

After a death, everyone deals with the burdens of grief differently. Some experience complete devastation, others feel numb or disconnected. Some people respond by withdrawing socially, while others reach out to others for support. Sometimes, as the initial shock begins to dissipate, further reality sets in, leading to further despair. Moving through the grief may mean learning new skills, taking on different ways of doing things to adjust to daily life without the person who died.

Some of the symptoms many people share after suffering personal loss:

  • Feels physically drained and tired
  • Loss of appetite and uninterested in eating
  • Insomnia
  • Physical pains, headaches or nausea
  • Becomes withdrawn, constantly tearful
  • Over involvement in activities to avoid the pain
  • Chaotic mood swings
  • Participation in harmful activities

For each person, there is a differing process in the experience of grieving. Emotions can feel intense one day and the next, seem to lessen. Like waves on the shore, the feelings ebb and flow. One moment feelings of anguish are overwhelming and engulfing, and then there are moments when the sadness seems further away. The first few days after someone dies are generally the most intense, marked often by chaos, intense emotions and confusion.

As time moves on, many feelings may emerge, ranging from guilt, to remorse, to anger. For every person, their reactions vary. It’s not uncommon for those grieving to struggle with questions such as: “Why did this happen? Where was God in this? Sometimes the greatest struggle is managing the guilt and questioning: “Did I do enough? Or wondering if there may have been a different outcome, had I handled things differently.

Sometimes the work of grieving becomes delayed. It’s too painful to face and work through the myriad of feelings encountered in facing the changes that losing the person brings. Instead, it is easier to find a new relationship, new job or new venture that seems to heal, but underneath are unresolved issues that surface later in symptoms of depression, anxiety, physical and relational problems.

Your ability to deal with the grief may relate to some of the following factors:

  • Your relationship to the person who died
  • Whether the death was sudden or expected
  • Your family background and personality
  • Your coping style and life experience
  • Your view of death and belief system
  • Having others around you who are supportive and able to offer comfort.

The grieving process can be long and arduous. It’s often easier to isolate than accept support and help during the process. Sorrow needs expression. Sadness needs words. Talking about grief is an essential part of the healing.

I know how difficult grieving can be. If you’re struggling with grief, it may be necessary to seek out someone to help you deal with the emotions you have stored up inside. You can get to a place of acceptance, peace, and hope for the future. Your life can become rich and meaningful again. Call and make an appointment today.

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