Learn About Ailments | Grief


Grief is a reaction to the loss of something physical (bereavement) or from a social loss (redundancy) or symbolic loss (divorce). People experiencing grief suffer with mental, emotional and physical symptoms and the energy required to deal with grief leads to tiredness and inability to cope with day-to-day routine.

In This Article
Causes of grief Symptoms of grief
Diagnosis of grief Related terms

Grief is a natural response caused by physical, social or symbolic loss. Humans require bonds with people or places to maintain emotional wellbeing. When these bonds are broken permanently the grieving process begins.

Grief is a struggle to hold on to an emotional bond while at the same time experiencing the reality of the loss. Unfulfilled dreams, future plans and hopes are destroyed resulting in problems adjusting to a new world.

Grief is typically triggered by a sudden traumatic or unanticipated event such as:
  • death of a loved one
  • miscarriage
  • redundancy
  • relationship break-down (divorce, separation)
  • chronic disease diagnosis
  • disability
  • infertility
  • forced retirement
  • starting school
Grief may be experienced at the time of the loss and then be triggered again later in life such as on an anniversary or when experiencing something that is similar to the initial event.

Many experts refer to the 'stages of grief'. These are sometimes explained as 3-stages, 5-stages or 7-stages depending on the medical practitioner or therapist you are dealing with. For a more detailed explanation of the stages of grief read our 'bereavement' section.

Here we'll examine the three stage grieving process.
  1. Initially there will be a stage of shock and disbelief on news of the loss. Many people experience numbness and will deny anything has happened. This is the body's defence mechanism to prevent it from being overwhelmed by emotional pain. This stage can last for a number of weeks.
  2. The second stage is one of pain and anguish that can last for weeks or months. During this stage it is difficult to imagine or make plans for any future and depression can occur. It is common to feel angry and resentful of the person who has gone but at the same time feel tremendous guilt.
  3. The third stage is one of acceptance, resolution and hope in which life returns to normality although not in the same way as before. This stage can take months or years to reach for some people.
During these stages there may be a number of physical, emotional and psychological symptoms experienced. These can include:
  • stress
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • sadness
  • guilt
  • anger
  • loss of appetite
  • sleeping difficulties
  • fatigue
  • abdominal pain
  • headaches

Grief is a natural process experienced by everyone although some people find their ability to cope is more impaired than others. It is important to recognise the stages of grief in order to work through them.

If you're finding the process too difficult to cope with, or are experiencing severe associated symptoms, then you should visit your GP to make sure there isn't any other underlying causes for your problems. If necessary, the GP will refer you to a therapist such as a counsellor or psychotherapist who will help you understand your feelings and discover ways for you to cope.


Therapies to consider
Acupuncture Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Counselling
EMDR Energy Healing Kinesiology
Life Coaching NLP Psychotherapy


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