Grief and Loss

What is it?

We all face numerous losses throughout our lives. It could be losing a job, losing a home, or ending a relationship. When the loss is the death of someone close to us, someone we care about -- a family member, friend, neighbor, or colleague/ coworker -- the loss can trigger a grieving process that can affect our way of living, both at home and at work/school.

What Symptoms Might You Notice?

Within the first few weeks to months after a death, you may find yourself riding on a roller coaster of shifting emotions. 

Here are several common, typical grief reactions:

  • Shock/Disbelief
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disruption
  • Appetite changes
  • Increased tension
  • Feeling distracted
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability
  • Disoriented/Confused

Things you can do to cope with grief:

Grieving the death of someone does not have a particular timetable. Mourning your loss may take weeks, months, or even years. From many individuals, the death of their loved one is carried with them throughout their lives. Although there is no "cure" for grief, here are several ways to help you cope with your loss, and begin to ease the pain.

Time: Take time alone and time with others whom you trust and who will listen when you need to talk.

Caring: Try to allow yourself to accept the expressions of caring from others even though they may be awkward. Helping a friend or relative suffering the same loss may bring a feeling of closeness with that person.

Rest, Relaxation, Diversion: You may need to give yourself extra amounts of things that nourish and replenish you. Hot baths, afternoon naps, a short trip, a project helping others -- any of these may give you a lift. Grief can be an emotionally and physically exhausting process.

Goals: For a while, it will seem that much of life is without meaning. At times like these, small goals are helpful. Something to look forward to -- like lunch with a friend that day, a movie the next week, a trip next month -- helps you get through the time in the immediate future. Sometimes living moment by moment, or one day at a time, is the rule of thumb. As time passes, you may want to work on longer-range goals to give yourself some structure and direction to your life.

Security: Try to reduce or find help for financial and other stresses in your life. Allow yourself to be close and open up to those you trust. Developing or getting back into a routine helps. Focus on doing things at your own pace.

Permission to feel your feelings: Sometimes after a period of feeling better, you find yourself back in the old feelings of extreme sadness, despair, or anger. This is the nature of grief -- one moment you're up, and next, you're down. Sometimes when you backslide, you are simply remembering, re-experiencing the trauma or enormity of your loss which starts to flood back and overwhelm you.

Hope: You may find hope and comfort from those who have experienced a similar loss. Knowing what helped them, and realizing that over time they have recovered, may give you the hope and strength to envision that you, too, will eventually heal from your grief.

Be aware of substance abuse: The use of drugs, alcohol, and even prescription medications may prolong and delay the necessary process of grieving. You cannot prevent or cure grief. The only way out is through the grief process.

In many instances, people can move through their grief on their own, or with their existing supports and resources. However, sometimes you need outside help or assistance to keep yourself from "going under," or getting "perpetually stuck" in your grief. These conditions can happen especially if you are experiencing multiple stressors, or coping with cumulative grief. These warning signs include continuing bouts of depression, social withdrawal, and isolation, suicidal thoughts, or continuing feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and despair.

Apps that help:


Grief and Loss: Helping in the Moment

Grief and Loss: Helping in the Moment

Guided Meditation Exercise for Relaxation in Times of Stress

Guided Meditation Exercise for Relaxation in Times of Stress

Page last modified March 8, 2024