Grief is a reaction to loss that can encompass a range of feelings, thoughts, and behaviours and is experienced differently by each person according to his or her culture, background, gender, beliefs, personality, and relationship to the deceased or loss.
Feelings common to grief are sadness and yearning. Guilt, regret, anger, and a sense of meaninglessness can also be present. Some may also a feel a sense of relief and liberation. Emotions can be surprising in their strength or mildness, contrary to the expectations of the griever; they can also be confusing, such as missing a painful relationship.
Grieving Thoughts and Behaviors
Thoughts during grief can vary from “there’s nothing I can do about it” to “it’s my fault, I could have done more” to “he had a good life” or “it wasn’t her time.” They can be troubling or soothing, and people in grief can bounce between different thoughts as they make sense of their loss. Grieving behaviours range from:
- Doing more physical things such as a hobby, playing, dancing, and working out; and/or
- Sharing feelings, exploring the lost relationship, and considering mortality and meaning in life
How Long Does it Take to Grieve?
It is helpful to know that grief is natural and time limited. It can continue anywhere from two weeks to almost two years, and is usually different for each relationship or event. It is also quite normal to be able to experience joy, contentment, and humour even amidst the worst loss. Factors contributing to soothing grief include strong social support, optimism, and physical exercise. Most people recover from grief and can continue with their usual activities, while still feeling moments of sadness, within six months. Some people feel better after about a year to a year and a half.
For others, their grief may be longer lasting, continuing for years without seeming to improve or with any break, and this may be due to factors before the loss such as pre-existing depression or high dependency on the departed.
Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. Some people are more emotional and dive into their feelings while others are stoic and may seek distraction from dwelling on an unchangeable fact of living. Neither is better than the other, but if at any point one is concerned about whether one’s grief-related feelings, thoughts, and behaviours are “normal” and “healthy,” a consultation with a qualified mental health professional may be advised.
Suffering from Grief or Loss?
At these times, you may wish to seek help from someone you trust such as a close friend or family member, or professionally through your local GP, or through counseling. Applecross Psychological Services can assist you with this process.
Click link to download Brochure for Grief and Loss