Losing someone or something you love or care deeply about is very painful. You may experience all kinds of difficult emotions and it may feel like the pain and sadness you’re experiencing will never let up. These are normal reactions to a significant loss. But while there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can renew you and permit you to move on.
What is grief?
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one—which is often the cause of the most intense type of grief—but any loss can cause grief, including:
Divorce or relationship breakup
Loss of health
Losing a job
Loss of financial stability
Death of a pet
Loss of a cherished dream
A loved one’s serious illness
Loss of a friendship
Loss of safety after a trauma
Selling the family home
The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief. However, even subtle losses can lead to grief. For example, you might experience grief after moving away from home, graduating from college, changing jobs, selling your family home, or retiring from a career you loved.
Everyone grieves differently
Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
The sadness of losing someone you love never goes away completely, but it shouldn’t remain center stage. If the pain of the loss is so constant and severe that it keeps you from resuming your life, you may be suffering from a condition known as complicated grief . Complicated grief is like being stuck in an intense state of mourning. You may have trouble accepting the death long after it has occurred or be so preoccupied with the person who died that it disrupts your daily routine and undermines your other relationships.
Symptoms of complicated grief include:
The difference between grief and depression
Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression isn’t always easy as they share many symptoms, but there are ways to tell the difference. Remember, grief can be a roller coaster. It involves a wide variety of emotions and a mix of good and bad days. Even when you’re in the middle of the grieving process, you will have moments of pleasure or happiness. With depression, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.
Other symptoms that suggest depression, not just grief:
Intense, pervasive sense of guilt
Thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with dying
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
Slow speech and body movements
Inability to function at work, home, and/or school
Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there
How I can help you
My role is to support you and encourage you to express your feelings about the loss you have experienced in a relationship that is supportive and confidential . You may be struggling with many different feelings in relation to this loss: anger, guilt, sadness, helplessness, anxiety. As it’s been mentioned above, everyone grieves differently and there may be specific thoughts or life events before your loss that are related to your feelings now. In therapy, you will find a safe space where you can make sense of all these thoughts and feelings, a process which aims at helping you in accepting your loss. If you are experiencing complicated grief or you think you may be depressed, we will work together for you to find ways of coping and overcoming this difficult period of your life.