What is grief?
Grieving can be experienced in lots of different ways. There is no ‘right’ way to grieve. However you experience or express your grief is okay. You may:
- Experience waves of sensations (emotional and physical)
- Cry a lot. It is normal. Tears help produce endorphins that help us manage the pain of grief
- Get distracted momentarily, and then have a realisation, which causes you distress
Period of suffering
- Slowly, over time, the intensity of the experiences of grief will lessen
- At times you might even notice that life has some enjoyment again
- The first year is often the worst.
- Overtime you will realise you have started to re-establish something that resembles ‘normal’ life.
Common grief feelings
- Blame (yourself/others/a god)
- How the outcome could have been prevented
- Feeling emotionally numb
- Loss of meaning in life
- Risk taking behaviour
- Anger, frustration
- Bargaining with God or a higher power
Fostering positive thoughts and behaviours
- Spend time talking with family, friends, colleagues
- Give yourself permission to have, express, and accept your feelings
- Make plans for community service, plan rituals, pay respects. These help link you to your community
- Trust that it will be easier over time to live with (learn to live with it)
- Understand that for some people grieving becomes a duty and is an expression of respect for the one who has died or a way of holding connection to the missed loved one
- Ask yourself "would the person who passed want you to suffer in this way?"
- Seek help if the impact on you is severe or lasts longer than you think is okay
Dealing with negative thoughts and behaviours
- If you react/'lash out' at others, apologise. It is likely they will understand
- If you feel depressed or suicidal, talk to friends, family and health professionals
- Take time out. Let others know your mood
- Allow them to occur. Let them pass through your mind
- If normal responsibilities become difficult ask for help
- Try to resist being overly self-critical. Challenge your thoughts
- If your emotions become strong then stop and take a break
- Be cautious about consumption - drink with friends and set a limit.
Describes common feelings of grief and both positive and negative ways to manage grief.
SBS Insight - a TV episode on the topic of grief. The episode includes expert information as well as individual experience of grief.
Sources for support