Grief & Loss Treatment & Care

Losing someone or something you love or care very deeply about is extremely painful and is a time in which you may experience a number of difficult emotions ranging from anger to sadness. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, these are all normal reactions that occur after a significant loss. However, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that will eventually permit an individual to move on. Grief is a natural reaction to loss and the more significant the loss the greater the grief will be.

The grieving process is a personal, individual experience and how a person grieves will depend on many different factors including personality, coping styles, life experiences, a person’s faith, and the nature of the loss. Individuals who are grieving may find themselves feeling numb and removed from daily life. Additionally, they may feel unable to carry on with daily activities while they are weighed down with their sense of loss. The whole grieving process takes time and healing will happen gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried along. While some people start to feel better within weeks for others it may take months or even years. Whatever the reason for grief it is important to remember that be patient and allow the process to occur naturally.

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Five stages of Loss and Grief

It has been determined, through previous research, that there are five stages of grief. Additionally, these stages of mourning and grief are universal and can be experienced by anyone who has suffered a loss. Not everyone who grieves goes through all stages of grief and individuals will also spend different lengths of time working through each stage. Finally, these stages do not necessarily occur in any specific order and it is possible to move between stages before eventually accept the loss. Theses stages include:

  • Stage one: denial
  • Stage two: anger
  • Stage three: bargaining
  • Stage four: depression
  • Stage five: acceptance

Signs and Symptoms of Grief

It is normal to experience a number of different emotional and physical complications throughout the grieving process. Additionally, while the symptoms of grief can last a long period of time, it normally begins to improve slowly over time until eventually the individual is able to re-engage in life and emotionally come to terms with the loss. While a loss affects individuals in a variety of different ways, many experience the following symptoms when they are grieving:

  • Shock and disbelief
  • Fear
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and stomach problems
  • Lowered immunity
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Preoccupation with the lost loved one
  • Constant longing for the loved one
  • Avoidance of friends and social activities
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Feeling the need to talk about loss all the time
  • Changes in personality or behavior
  • Numbness
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling overly sensitive
  • Forgetful
  • Easily fatigued
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Bouts of crying

Effects of Grief

The sadness you feel over losing someone you love will never completely go away, but over time itshouldn’t remain the center of your life. If you are not feeling better over time, or if your grief is getting worse, then it may indicate the presence of a more serious problem. Not only is grief painful, but it can take an emotional and physical toll on an individual. In fact, grief typically goes hand-in-hand with a variety of physical and mental problems such as memory impairment, problems concentrating, nutritional deficiencies, and poor work performance. In some cases, grief can cause or exacerbate physical ailments that already exist. If you do not get help for your grief then the consequences can greatly affect your life.

Physical effects can include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Compromised immune system
  • Higher risk for serious illness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Risk of heart attack

Emotional effects can include:

  • PTSD
  • Feelings of self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Loneliness
  • Feelings of abandonment
  • Depression
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Treatment for Grief

The single most important factor that helps a person heal from grief is having the support of family members and other close loved ones. It is important that you share your loss and what you are feeling with your loved ones because sharing your grief can help lessen the burden. In instances where you feel as if your grief is too much to bear, you should call a mental health professional who has experience helping people through the grieving process. An experienced therapist can help you to work through your intense emotions and overcome any obstacles you may face. In most cases grief counseling will include helping the bereaved accept the loss by talking about it, helping him or her identify and accept feelings related to the loss, and helping him or her to separate emotionally from the person he or she has lost. Additionally, grief counseling provides individuals with support, can explain the grieving process and the differences in grieving among individuals, and to help individuals understand their methods of coping. In addition to grief therapy it may be a good idea to join a support group to help relieve some of the stress related to the grieving process. Through support groups, members can share common experiences and problems while helping each other during this difficult time.

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