Grief is a multifaceted response to loss of all sorts. An emotion we feel when a significant relationship in our life ends. Although the most common cause for the ending is the death of someone we care for, it can also be felt when a relationship is lost because of divorce, relocation or other influences beyond our control. We don't grieve for all lost relationships; only those that have, for one reason or another, become meaningful to us over time. This can be for people we love or admire (family, partners, friends, teachers) but also a much loved pet, or indeed places or things we treasure (a house you grew up in, a photo, a family heirloom or indeed a cherished career).
"Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness.
It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love.
The only way to avoid it is not to love
The only way to cure it is to grieve."
Individuals grieve in many different ways. Some grieve publicly and openly with great shows of emotion, others grieve silently and keep their emotions hidden. For some people, grief is easily overcome, for others it takes a long time to pass through the grieving process. Each individual grieves in a way which suits them, their emotions and the extent of their loss.
Grief is a normal human emotion and the healing process continues until we have recovered from the intense sense of loss and when we find that we are again able to function normally. This does not mean that we forget about the loss, or that we stop feeling sad when we think about the loss we have experienced; it simply means that we are able to get on with our lives. Grief affects us emotionally, physically, mentally, how we behave, and how much we want to be with other people.
It is important to recognise when understandable grief becomes something more. When we become 'stuck' in our grief it can lead to depression and desperation affecting everyday life. Warning signs include being unable to focus on little else but the loss, thoughts of guilt or self-blame associated with the loss, the belief you did something wrong and could have prevented the loss, feeling as if life isn't worth living, feeling you have lost your purpose in life, or feeling life will never be pleasurable again.
Normal Grief follows a series of stages that move from shock to remembrance and onward toward eventual acceptance. However, when a person fails to reach the stage of acceptance and finds themselves unable to get on with their life, this is diagnosed as Abnormal Grief, known as Complex or Pathological Grief.
Long-lasting grief impacts greatly on a person's life. It may cause difficulty sleeping or sleeping a great deal; some individuals may avoid certain situations or they may feel lethargic or fatigued much of the time; they may also have difficulty eating.
Working with a professional counsellor, therapist or psychologist can often help a person to understand why they are feeling so badly about the loss. In many instances, a counsellor, psychologist or therapist will help to work through the stages of grief, listen to memories and help to find a balance for continuing everyday normal activities.
Where Complex Grief is present, a GP or medical professional might prescribe medication for grief-induced depression. Although taking Medication is rarely effective by itself in treating grief or depression, it can help with cognitive impairment and improves the ability to think clearly. Once this is achieved, it can become easier to integrate the concepts and ideas that therapy provides.