Loss and grief are inevitable in one’s life. We are all bound to experience loss at some point. This feeling of grief comes over us when we lose someone or something very dear to us like the death of a loved one, pet, job, or end of a relationship. Sometimes, a change to our way of life can also make us feel as if we are grieving. It is not a disease or illness; it’s a way your emotions respond to the nonexistence of that person or other things in your life. But the problem comes in when it becomes difficult to stop grieving and you feel stuck. When you feel that you cannot move beyond the sadness and you believe that you may never feel better. At this place it becomes what is known as complicated grief. You feel the grief consumes many if not all aspects of your life.
Losing someone suddenly can be extremely traumatic, for example as a result of violence, heart attack, or an accident or even you coming home from work and your partner disappears. This type of loss takes us by surprise and is quite different from a situation where the person has been sick for a long time. In either case one of the biggest myths that comes across to us from well-meaning friends and family is that time heals all wounds. Some will tell us to be strong or just simply replace the loss. They believe that we can just will the pain away on our own. Keep busy your friends will tell you. It will all turn out fine while you are suffering for months on end.
Grief is unique to each single person. Some of the normal reactions can include feeling sad or down, frequent crying, shock, denial, numbness, anxiety, confusion, exhaustion, anger, guilt, shame, blame or even relief after a long illness, loneliness, isolation and withdrawal, feeling or acting differently than the usual, physical health problems – headaches, changes in eating or sleeping patterns, difficulty concentrating, not enjoying usual activities and hobbies, tension or issues with personal relationships, increased alcohol, smoking or drug use, feeling hopeless or like you can’t go on – thoughts of suicide or self-harm. You can become saddled with guilt thinking you may have been able to save the person or avert the situation that brought about the loss.
People experiencing long-term grief often need a professional to help manage their emotional pain and help move beyond the loss and start experiencing the joy in life that often has been missing for many months and even years. Do not feel you have to be stuck in your emotional pain, all alone with your sadness.