Grief and Loss go hand-in-hand. Grief is a normal and natural emotional response to a significant loss of someone or something you love. Grief can also arise in more subtle ways in times of transition like moving, a job change, or retirement. The pain of loss can feel overwhelming and can bring on a variety of emotions that are often unpredictable and challenging to navigate. It can affect your ability to function in daily life and impact your physical health by disrupting your sleep, eating habits, and ability to think clearly.
We all naturally grieve which refers to our experience of loss, but we also need to mourn. Mourning is how we intentionally journey with our grief so that we come to terms with the loss, find new meaning in life, and move forward with hope and healing. Some ways of coping with the pain of loss that can help you to heal over time include talking with others about feelings, self-care (eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep), learning about grief, drawing on faith resources, as well as seeking the support of others. Each person’s experience will be unique and can’t be hurried. Factors such as the type of loss, age, personality, beliefs, and support network can all influence the grief experience as well as the mourning process.
Over the course of time, the sadness of loss may never completely go away, but it is normal for the intensity of emotions to gradually ease. If you remain stuck in an intense state of mourning this could be a sign that you are experiencing what is called, “complicated grief.” Symptoms of this include having trouble accepting the loss long after it has occurred, or being so preoccupied with the loss that it disrupts activities of daily living and undermines relationships.
When to Seek Professional Help
Grief and depression have some symptoms in common, but there are also differences. Grief will tend to involve a mixture of emotions and include good and bad days along with moments of happiness or pleasure. With depression, feelings of emptiness and despair or more constant. If you have: thoughts that life isn’t worth living, thoughts of self-harm, a pervasive sense of guilt, or you feel hopeless or worthless, you should seek help right away.
If you have concerns about your own journey with grief or that of a someone you care about, we encourage you to reach out to one of our counselors to help discern next steps. You may be encouraged that you are making progress even if it is hard for you to see. Or your counselor may help determine if you are dealing with complicated grief or depression and need further assistance. Treatment can help you move toward hope and healing!
- The Wilderness of Grief: Finding Your Way by Alan Wolfelt
- A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss by Gerald Sittser
More Resources on Grief and Loss