GRIEF: What are the symptoms of grief?

Grief is what we feel and experience when we suffer a loss.

It can be completely overwhelming and even painful in so many ways, but it can also be delayed, occurring sometime well after the loss.

We commonly of course associate grief with the loss of a loved one which of course can be extraordinarily traumatic however the same or similar symptoms can arise at any traumatic loss or series of losses, and can be compounded by each repeated trauma.

The loss of a partner through death can be compounded by the loss of self-confidence in continuing to manage life alone, the sudden loneliness,  the fear of the future and the realisation of each occurrence itself can be a further trauma.

Upon the death of a patriarch, matriarch or child, there may the trauma of the loss of family unity that was maintained only by the common thread of the parent/parenting.

Other common events that may have similar symptoms of varying degree, are:

  • The loss of a partner, children and/or home through divorce or separation,
    • the loss of one’s own confidence after an accident, injury or assault.
    • Loss of a job or career
    • Loss of mobility and/or independence

The trauma of the each and every loss may manifest in both physical and emotional symptoms, including this alphabetical list:

  • ANGER:         Anger is one of the stages of grief associated with the denial of the trauma (a self-preservation). The anger may be commonly be directed at:
    • Your lost loved one for leaving you
    • The ambulance or medical staff for not saving your loved one
    • God, for allowing the death to occur
    • Anyone and everyone who fails to listen to you or understand your needs/requirements
    • Yourself, for a variety of reasons some of which may be completely irrational
  • CONFUSION:      the shock of the trauma of an event can result in confusion and an inability to properly function. This can be temporary and may improve after the initial shock, but as additional trauma’s arise, each can step of the process can be an additional trauma that reignites the confusion
  • DEHYDRATION: drinking plenty of water can help as anxiety can lead to excessive perspiration and this can lead to dehydration that may be compounded by crying. Be aware that the consumption of alcohol can increase dehydration.
  • DIGESTIVE UPSET:            nausea, a loss of appetite, indigestion, diarrhea, can all be a part of the bodies reaction to trauma and can also add to the inability to cope. a lack of exercise and an increased consumption can lead to excessive weight gain while a disinterest in eating can result in rapid weight loss.
  • DIMINISHED ABILITY:     the range of emotions and shock can result in an inability to concentrate or even to process thought. This can also manifest as forgetfulness, confusion, and an inability to make decisions.
  • DRAMATIC MOOD SWINGS:       grief can manifest in sudden and dramatic mood swings that may seem irrational and unexpected e.g. crying because the you spilled your tea on the carpet, suddenly getting very angry with a passer-by because they accidentally bumped into you, getting angry with the Funeral Director or Celebrant because a flower is out of place
  • HEAD ACHES:              The stress and anxiety can result in headaches as a result of fatigue, sleep loss, dehydration or another number of a combination of factors.
  • FEAR & ANXIETY:             a sense of helplessness and a lack of control of circumstances and surroundings is common and can manifest as anxiety, worry and a fear of the future or even a sense of hopelessness
  • INSOMNIA:  sleep is a great healer but disturbed sleep, broken sleep, restlessness, chemical/alcohol induced sleep, and disturbing dreams all add to fatigue and stress and diminish the ability to cope with stress and trauma. Without sufficient sleep we our bodies and well-being, begin to break down.
  • LOSS OF ENERGY/ILLNESS:           constant or recurrent fatigue and/or lethargy including physical aches and pains can occur. The effects of an existent illness may be exasperated because of a variety of influences leading to a reduction of immunity.
  • NUMBNESS: this commonly occurs in the initial period of ‘shock’, immediately following the discovery of the loss has even occurred.
  • SADNESS & MELANCHOLIA :             an overwhelming sadness is common but be aware that the ‘numbness’ and ‘denial’ (temporary lack of acceptance) can manifest as confusion and guilt i.e. why aren’t I crying/why can’t I stop crying; I don’t have enough money to pay for the funeral etc.
  • SELF BLAME & GUILT:    You may experience irrational guilt such as “what could I have done/not done to prevent this” , when in fact you may have had no control whatsoever.

  NB. For more information on this subject, go to my webpage and find Grief & Loss


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