Grief, or bereavement as it is commonly called, is a process that all people go through when experiencing a loss. The definition of grief as a “deep sadness caused by someone’s death,” yet grief can occur due to a variety of other circumstances, including:
- Health changes in yourself or a loved one
- Loss of friendships or divorce
- Death of a pet
- Losing a job or financial security
- Moving and other life changes
When these changes occur in life, the grieving process is both normal and expected. There are some, however, who experience prolonged grief, which occurs when the feelings of intense sadness continue for six months or longer.
Symptoms of Grief
While each person experiences bereavement in his or her own way, there are some symptoms that nearly every person experiences:
- General fatigue or a sense of being drained
- Frequent crying
- Withdrawing from others or becoming lonely
- Anger or fear
- Changes in appetite
- Frequent dreams about or sensing the deceased person
- Inability to think or remember clearly
- Physical symptoms such as headache, nausea or chest pains
- Taking part in harmful activities
- Working excessively to avoid thoughts
These symptoms are all common, but can vary in intensity – especially if the person must make life-altering changes in addition to the loss.
The Five Stages of Grief
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a psychiatrist that studied how the loss of health affected those diagnosed with terminal illnesses, developed five distinct stages that occur during grief.
- Denial – The person refuses to believe that the situation is occurring
- Anger – The person becomes angry with the situation, and looks for someone that they can blame for the illness
- Bargaining – Making statements about making changes if the illness goes away
- Depression – The person adopts an uncaring attitude and sadness about the situation
- Acceptance – The person suffering from the illness comes to accept the loss
When dealing with grief, many people experience all five stages, while others experience only one or two. The order of the stages can also vary from one person to the next, with many experiencing some stages multiple times.
Grieving is a natural process, but it is different for every person. For most people, the symptoms of bereavement can last from 6 weeks to as long as 4 years. If you feel as if you are unable to deal with the emotions of grief, speaking to your doctor, friends, or a therapist can help.
Read this article to better understand the 5 Stages of Grief.
Discover 13 Books to Help Heal Grief and Loss.
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