What is grief?

What is grief?

Grief is our response to a loss such as a person we love, our identity, our health or anything we feel a connection to.
What is grief?

When we experience loss we tend to feel intense emotions such as a profound sadness, a numbness, anger and even relief. The pain of grief is a whole body experience and it is unlike anything else we may have gone through. It can feel like there is no end in sight, and we often want to know when we will feel better.
As humans we like our life to remain the same so when we are mourning, we may want to feel more in control, to reject the current circumstances and return to our old way of life.

Grief touches every part of our life, so it can feel like there is no escape from this pain we are feeling and the effort it takes to adjust to the new normal can feel herculean. Although this can feel physically painful, grief is a normal cycle of life. It is not a disorder or pathological and the intensity and sharpness of grief often reduces over time.

Complicated grief

If this doesn’t subside over time, it is referred to as complicated grief and impacts approximately 15% of the population. It is identified as a disruption to our daily function and can include an avoidance of reminders of the deceased, you may notice a lack of desire to engage with life or life plans, a preoccupation with the deceased or with how that person died and you may feel a prolonged anger, blame or guilt.

With the death of your loved one in mind, finish this sentence…I can’t <insert what is currently difficult> if you find there is something you feel you cannot do, and a significant time has passed, you may be experiencing complicated grief.

Depression vs Grief

Occasionally, we think we may be depressed so here are a few ways to separate out what is depression versus what is grief.

The symptoms of grief gradually reduce over time. Someone experiencing depression often needs treatment to recover.

Someone with depression often has feelings of worthlessness and despair and a lack of joy. Depression can happen at any time, whereas grief will be followed by a loss.

What is helpful?

During a period of mourning our body is under extreme stress so it is really important we understand what is happening and how can we feel some slight relief and take care of ourselves.

Initially it can be difficult to understand exactly what we are going through, we can feel confusion, we may not be able to focus on any one task for a period of time, therefore making any kind of decision feels impossible. All of this can make us feel fatigued and exhausted with very little energy to engage in other tasks.

Understanding the sensations we feel in our body and attaching emotional language to describe them can be very helpful. This enables us to articulate what we are experiencing and we can then go about exploring our possibilities. It will also encourage empathy in our support network and help them to help us.

Talking through our thoughts and feelings with our friends, family and a therapist moves the emotion out of our body instead of holding onto what we are feeling. This will help reduce the stress our body is under. Journalling, telling stories of our loved ones and movement of any kind, moves this process along.

Deep breathing and meditation, especially coupled with gentle exercise slows down our nervous system, which over time sustains our mental and emotional wellbeing.

Think about another time when you overcame adversity, what was helpful to you then?

What resources were important to you to get you through that difficult time?

Routine can be important for some people as this allows us to engage with our support network and provides us a structure to give us confidence. It is ok to allow ourselves to feel pleasure and considering what will give us comfort can be incredibly healing. Music, podcasts, comedy, nature are just some of the ways we can bring lightness to a dark situation.

Please remember, we are here for you.

Call us on 0113 340 0111 or email support@yorksbtc.org.uk

We have an out of hours support line: 0113 511 8111 Find out more HERE.

We also offer our Bereavement Support Group. Find out more HERE.

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