Understanding Grief After Losing a Loved One

Grief is a person’s natural response to an important loss. Grief results in many different emotions. Over time, normal grieving can help you accept and heal from your loss, and move forward positively with your life.

Many types of loss result in feelings of grief, including the loss of a loved one or cherished pet; health or physical ability; job, home or financial security; or even the loss of an important personal goal.

Bereavement and Mourning

Bereavement describes the time period during which you experience grief. Its duration depends on your personality and relationship with your deceased loved one, and whether your loss was expected or sudden. Your culture, religion, support systems and even your financial circumstances may affect how you respond to and cope with grief.

Mourning is the outward expression of grief. Cultural customs and traditions often influence how people express grief. Mourning is also expressed as a period of time. Duration and expressions of mourning vary greatly by individual. Mourning rituals acknowledge the loss while offering social support, structure and reaffirmation of life.

Common Responses

Everyone responds to and copes with grief differently, yet the following feelings are common:

  • Shock, disbelief and “numbness”
  • Irritability, envy or anger
  • Sadness, loneliness or depression
  • Frustration or feeling misunderstood
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Anxiety or fearfulness
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