Each person deals with grief in their own way and in their own time.
The usual response to significant loss is grief. There is no ‘normal’ way to grieve. Saying that grief is normal, does not minimize how difficult and painful it can be.
The experience of grieving is often described as a roller coaster ride of emotions which can change day by day. Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning, and the lows may be deeper and longer. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss.
People who are grieving can sometimes feel they have reached a stage whereby they are managing well, only to have a particularly bad day that undermines their confidence. This can be a confusing time as you struggle to reconcile a range of emotions in response to your loss.
Grief can have a physical, as well as emotional impact. The list of physical symptoms include, exhaustion, sleeping difficulties, poor appetite or overeating, dizziness, trembling, headaches, dry mouth, shortness of breath and many more.
There used to be a widely held belief that a person progresses through various stages of grief such as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is now known that there are many emotions experienced by grieving people, and the number of different emotions and their sequence differs between individuals. Misunderstandings about the grieving process can make the bereaved person question their feelings and sanity.
Understanding what grief can be like, finding ways to safely express strong emotions and coming up with coping strategies can help you endure the pain that accompanies grief.
When people grieve they are coming to terms with what has changed in their lives. Following loss, the grieving person has to relearn the world and themselves, because ‘everything’ has changed. We don’t ‘get over’ profound grief, because we are changed both by our love and by the loss of our loved one.
But life will eventually have meaning again, although our loss will always be part of us. It is not unusual for grief to be felt over an extended period of time. Even years after a loss, especially at special events such as a family wedding or the birth of a child, we may still experience a strong sense of grief. Eventually we will learn to live with our loss.