Grief: Bereavement and Loss

Grief is the normal human response to loss. We typically expect grief to follow the death of a loved friend or family member, but different types and intensities of grief can also follow the loss of anything or anyone valued or meaningful to someone (i.e., being fired, losing a home, the retirement transition, the end of a relationship, miscarriage).

There is no one single ‘right’ way to grieve a loss, nor is there a ‘right’ timetable for how long grief should last. However, the common goal of mourning is to accept the loss and move forward in one’s life. Many different types of reactions (both emotional and behavioural) are ‘normal’ through the process of grief. Many people describe a combination of shock, anger, guilt, worry, sadness and crying, and a desire to temporarily isolate oneself socially.¬†Sometimes people speak of ‘getting over’ grief, but I think that one never truly ‘get over’ some losses, particularly the loss of a close friend or cherished family member. However, one can learn how to integrate the loss into their life and their concept of who they are and learn how to live with it.

It is important to recognise that grief has many components, including emotional, cognitive, physical, behavioural, social, cultural, spiritual, and philosophical. Each of these components is involved in healing from a loss.

Counselling can be a helpful strategy to help one cope with these normal reactions, helping one process their thoughts and feelings and move forward in their own lives. Rituals, customs, and beliefs often surround the process of mourning and may be helpful to the bereaved. Grief can also sometimes become ‘complicated’ by the development of anxiety, depression, addiction or other mental health problems. Seeking counselling for these concerns can create significant improvements in mental wellness.