Loss and Grief

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

  • Guilt
  • Blame (yourself/others/a god)
  • How the outcome could have been prevented
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Irritable
  • Loss of meaning in life
  • Risk taking behaviour
  • Anger, frustration 
  • Bargaining with God or a higher power 

What helps

Fostering positive thoughts and behaviours

Be social

  • Spend time talking with family, friends, colleagues

Emotions

  • Give yourself permission to have, express, and accept your feelings

Commemoration

  • Make plans for community service, plan rituals, pay respects. These help link you to your community

Trust

  • Trust that it will be easier over time to live with (learn to live with it)

Understand

  • 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

Reflect

  • Ask yourself "would the person who passed want you to suffer in this way?"

Seek help

  • Seek help if the impact on you is severe or lasts longer than you think is okay

Dealing with negative thoughts and behaviours

Impulsive

  • If you react/'lash out' at others, apologise. It is likely they will understand

Suicidal

  • If you feel depressed or suicidal, talk to friends, family and health professionals

Irritable

  • Take time out. Let others know your mood

Negative emotions

  • Allow them to occur. Let them pass through your mind

Overwhelmed

  • If normal responsibilities become difficult ask for help

Self critical

  • Try to resist being overly self-critical. Challenge your thoughts

Whist driving

  • If your emotions become strong then stop and take a break

Alchohol

  • Be cautious about consumption - drink with friends and set a limit.

Videos

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