Common reactions to grief and loss

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There is a multitude of different sources of grief and loss and not all involve death. Individuals experiencing grief from a loss may choose a variety of ways of expressing it. No two people will respond to the same loss in the same way. However, some frequent reactions include:

Changed behaviours:

  • Seeking solitude, withdrawal.
  • Change in social activities.
  • Inappropriate behaviour (e.g., laughing).
  • Absent mindedness.

Sleep and energy disturbances:

  • Feeling fatigued, restless, lethargic.
  • Sleep difficulties.

Other physical symptoms:

  • Changed eating habits.
  • Gastro-intestinal complaints.
  • Decreased interest in pleasurable activities.
  • Decreased sex drive.

A range of troubling emotions:

  • Feelings of denial, disbelief, numbness, shock, panic, or sadness.
  • Feelings of isolation.
  • Mood fluctuations.
  • Anger, guilt, frustration, hostility, blaming.

Cognitive difficulties such as forgetfulness, confusion or a lack of concentration.

Spiritual emptiness and pessimism.

Constant thought about the deceased or a feeling of their presence.

Although these reactions can be overwhelming and distressing, it is important to accept and not to avoid them. It is also useful to remember your reactions are common and natural and you are not alone.

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