What is grief?
Grief is the normal response of sorrow, emotion and confusion that
comes from losing someone or something important to you. It is a
natural part of life. Grief is a typical reaction to death, divorce,
job loss, a move away from friends and family, or loss of good
health due to illness.
How does grief feel?
Just after a death or loss, you may feel empty and numb, as if
you are in shock. You may notice physical changes such as trembling,
nausea, trouble breathing, muscle weakness, dry mouth, or trouble
sleeping and eating.
You may become angry -- at a situation, a particular person or
just angry in general. Almost everyone in grief also experiences
guilt. Guilt is often expressed as "I could have, I should have, and
I wish I would have" statements.
People in grief may have strange dreams or nightmares, be
absent-minded, withdraw socially, or lack the desire to return to
work. While these feelings and behaviors are normal during grief,
they will pass.
How long does grief last?
Grief lasts as long as it takes you to accept and learn to live
with your loss. For some people, grief lasts a few months. For
others, grieving may take years.
The length of time spent grieving is different for each person.
There are many reasons for the differences, including personality,
health, coping style, culture, family background and life
experiences. The time spent grieving also depends on your
relationship with the person lost and how prepared you were for the
How will I know when I'm done grieving?
Every person who experiences a death
or other loss must complete a four-step grieving process:
Accept the loss.
Work through and
feel the physical and emotional pain of grief.
Adjust to living
in a world without the person or item lost.
Move on with life.
The grieving process is over only when a person completes the
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How does grief differ from depression?
Depression is more than a feeling of
grief after losing someone or something you love. Clinical
depression is a whole body disorder. It can take over the way you
think and feel. Symptoms of depression include:
A sad, anxious or
"empty" mood that won't go away.
Loss of interest in
what you used to enjoy.
fatigue, feeling "slowed down."
Changes in sleep
Loss of appetite,
weight loss or weight gain.
concentrating, remembering or making decisions.
Feeling hopeless or
worthless or helpless.
Thoughts of death
or suicide or a suicide attempt.
Recurring aches and pains that don't
respond to treatment.
If you recently experienced a death or other loss, these feelings
may be part of a normal grief reaction. But if these feelings
persist with no lifting mood, ask for help.
Where can I find help?
The following list of organizations and Web sites provides
information and support for coping with grief:
The Compassionate Friends (national office)
P.O. Box 3696
Oak Brook, IL 60522-3696
630-990-0010; toll-free 877-9690010
A national self-help support organization for those grieving the
loss of a child or sibling.
Bethesda Professional Building
4360 Cooper Road, Suite 101
Cincinnati, OH 45242
513-745-0111 (Monday-Friday 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. EST)
Grief information, resources and support for grieving children and
Renew: Center for Personal Recovery
P.O. Box 125
Berea, KY 40403
A grief counseling center for individuals and families that are
experiencing loss, with a specialty in grief recovery counseling for
GriefNet is a professionally directed online grief support
community. It has over 50 monitored support groups covering the loss
of a parent, of a child, of a sibling, of a friend, of a spouse, of
a pet, loss due to military service and other unique losses.
Growth House Inc.
A source of quality information and resources on death and dying
Mental Health Information Center]