Grief & Loss: Grief Reactions
Grief reactions are as different as the people who experience them; there is no right way to grieve.
Grief may be responsible for physical symptoms such as insomnia, appetite changes, malaise, or actual illness. Grief affects perception - the way we see ourselves and others, the way we make decisions. We may find it difficult to think clearly and may feel a sense of confusion. If possible, major decisions should be postponed. Small victories, such as deciding on the day's meals, will help to instill a sense of control.
Grief may prompt some to withdraw from life and push others to stay too busy to feel. It is important that contact with friends and family is maintained. Contact with others who are experiencing the loss can help one to move through the grief process. Almost every emotion can be part of the grief reaction: fear, anger, peace, despair, guilt, agitation, and a seemingly bottomless sorrow may all be a part of grief. There is no order, scale, or time limit for these emotions. If it feels that there is no relief, seeking assistance from a counselor is helpful in putting the grief reaction into perspective.
Religious faith may be a source of comfort or a source of struggle in the face of loss. Being angry at God, religion, the church or a similar faith-based program is not uncommon. Grief is not a weakness, it is a necessity. A loss and it's meaning can become part of a happy and healthy life. Immediate reactions to grief (shock, sadness) are known and expected, but we may be unprepared for its long-term manifestations.
Symptoms of Bereavement
The symptoms of grief or bereavement look and feel similar to depression. The symptoms include insomnia, poor appetite, and weight loss for some people. Others may sleep excessively and overeat as a means of coping with the loss. If the symptoms persist for two months or more, professional assistance is recommended.