Grief is a strong, natural emotional reaction that affects us all throughout our lives. Grief can lead to the mental and emotional suffering or distress associated with a loss and is not explicit to death-related losses. In addition to death, here are some alternate forms of loss where the effects of grief may also be endured:
- Loss of a pet
- Loss of friendships
- Loss of a job
- Loss of personal property
- Loss of a romantic relationship (i.e. marriage)
- Loss of dreams and hope for the future
In many cases, individuals can also experience disenfranchised grief in relation to their loss. Disenfranchised grief, sometimes referred to as hidden grief, refers to any grief that goes unacknowledged or is invalidated by social norms. This kind of grief can include losing someone to suicide, the death of a pet, experiencing a stillbirth, etc. all of which are often minimized or not understood by others, which makes it particularly hard to process and work through.
Moreover, grief can also be classified as complicated grief when an individual is experiencing a persistent and heightened state of mourning that keeps them from healing. Complicated grief consists of maladaptive thoughts and dysfunctional behaviours may include: intense sorrow, yearning, pain and rumination over the loss of your loved one with irrational thoughts that the deceased person might reappear.
The magnitude of impact from grief can be forceful and may create a shock wave through your life taking a toll on your overall well-being. The effects of grief can be endured in 3 major ways:
- Psychologically (increased fear, depression, disorganization, etc.)
- Socially (withdrawal from others, lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities, etc.)
- Physically (decreased energy, poor sleep hygiene, changes in appetite, etc.)
The aim of grief therapy is to help you adapt to your unique loss by appreciating the reality of the loss, and make the necessary internal (psychological) and external (social) change to accommodate this reality. Grief s a continuing development, involving many changes over time and is highly individualistic based on our unique perceptions of the loss experienced. It is important to know that we may have our own methods for grieving and it is not necessary for you to have the loss recognized or validated by others in order for you to have permission to grieve. Talking to someone about your grief is a healthy way to get the support you need to cope and eventually finding a way to see the future as holding possibilities for a life with purpose and meaning, joy and satisfaction.
Rando, T. (1988). How to go on living when someone you love dies.