Loss and grief is a normal part of life that everyone experiences at some point. How we experience grief and loss depends on a range of factors, including who or what we have lost, our personality, our past history and upbringing, our cultural heritage, our spiritual beliefs, our current circumstances and our social support network.



Let yourself grieve – it’s important to express your feelings, rather than bottling them up. Share your feelings with a trusted family member, friend or health professional. Alternatively, express your emotions in another way, such as through physical activity, listening to or playing music, writing a journal, praying or meditating, painting/drawing or engaging in cultural ceremonies or rituals to say goodbye.

  • Take care of yourself– grief can be physically and emotionally draining. Remember to take care of yourself by eating healthily, doing regular exercise and getting enough sleep. When you feel ready, try to get back into your normal routine. Avoid alcohol and drugs, as they can numb your feelings and make it harder to heal but drinking plenty of water and exercising helps.
  • Take your time– when you lose someone or something important, it takes time to get back into life. There isn’t a set time limit on grief, so try not to put pressure on yourself or others to “move on” or “get over it”. Avoid making any big decisions until you are able to think more clearly.
  • Let others help– it can be hard to accept help from family and friends. Sometimes they don’t know how to support you during this difficult time. Explain how you’re feeling and what others can do to help. It may be emotional support or helping with more practical things, like cooking, running errands or looking after children.
  • Do things you enjoy– it’s important to take “time out” from your grief to enjoy life and have fun. Even when you’re feeling down, try to regularly connect with family and friends and get involved in activities that you enjoy. This will help you to stay healthy and assist in the healing process.

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The 7 Stages Of Grief & Loss

It was Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who first identified and clarified the 7 Stages of Grief in her book “On Death and Dying” which may help understand the wretched stranger called grief that inflicts us at a time of great loss; and the passage that we all go through to survive.

The progress varies and may be jumbled up at times, but is basically as follows:

    You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.
  2. PAIN & GUILT-
    As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the painfully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.
    You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn’t do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.
    Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled-up emotion.
    You may rail against fate, questioning “Why me?” You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair (“I will never drink again if you just bring him back”)
    Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.
    During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.
    As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your “depression” begins to lift slightly.
    As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.
    During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.
    You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.
    You have made it through the 7 stages of 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 traumas 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, diarrhoea, 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 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, our bodies and wellbeing, 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.

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Where to get Help in coping with Grief

You can ask for help from your own GP, the local Community Health Centres, Hospitals, Churches & Ministers of Religion, and a variety of Welfare Agencies.

I have listed some links below to help you finds a service that suits you.

Agency index

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Australian Centre for Grief and BereavementAustralian Centre for Grief and Bereavement

Grief and loss information and referral service

Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement


Compassionate Friends
National Office 
NSW Branch

Suite 802, Level 8, 32 York Street, Sydney NSW 2000
GPO Box 1303, Sydney 2001
Toll Free: 1800 671 621
Phone: 1300 224 636
NSW phone (02) 9290 2355
NSW Fax: (02) 9290 2445
Email: info@tcfnsw.org.au

The Compassionate Friends (TCF) NSW is a not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to providing peer support to bereaved parents, siblings and grandparents after the tragic loss of a child. We are a registered charity and coordinate approximately 30 Chapters throughout the Sydney metropolitan area and regional NSW.


7-9 White Street, Jannali 2226
P.O. Box 799, Sutherland, New South Wales, 1499
(02) 9542 4029
FACSIMILE: (02) 9542 4036


    • Monday to Thursday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. After-hours sessions can be arranged by appointment.
    • Friday: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. After-hours sessions can be arranged by appointment.
    • Saturday: 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.
    • Sunday: Closed.

Each year a great number of people lose their lives or are badly injured in road incidents. These tragedies cause immense emotional and physical pain for the survivors, and the families of those people killed or injured. The lives of those left behind are changed forever.

Our aim is to:

    • Assist people affected by any form of road trauma
    • Advocate for legislative change that will lower the incidence of road trauma
    • Promote the availability of support services to trauma victims
    • Provide education programs and initiatives which raise awareness of responsible road use

Dealing with the trauma and grief, then integrating this tragic event into daily living requires courage and support. This support may come from partners, family, friends and counsellors.
We have qualified, experienced Counsellors who can work with you. All counselling is confidential.
Our counselling service is about empowerment through support and understanding. We conduct group or individual, face to face and/or telephone counselling. An interpreter can be arranged if necessary.


Online and telephone counselling for 12-25yr olds


Online and telephone counselling for 12-25yr olds



HSNet is a free website available to anyone looking for a service in NSW. The site is mobile-ready and works on any internet-enabled device including tablets and smartphones, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For professionals in the human and justice sector, HSNet also offers free membership with access to resources and tools to improve communication and collaboration in the delivery of services to communities in NSW.

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Kids HelplineKids Helpline


Mensline AustraliaMensline Australia

1300 78 99 78
Support for men concerned about their own violent behaviour

Support for men concerned about their own violent behaviour


National Association for Loss and Grief– grief counselling services nalag.org.au (link is external)
(02) 6882 9222

NALAG Grief Support Telephone Service – Sydney
Phone: 0439 922 201


If you would like to register a client for any NALAG service, please download and complete a Registration Form and return by email or fax. Alternatively please call to refer a client directly.
Registration Form – Word
Registration Form – PDF


Lifeline – 24 hours counselling phone 13 11 14
Grief Support (StandBy Response Service)
Grief Support (StandBy Response Service)


Victims Support Agency – 1800 633 063

Fax: (02) 8688 9632

Email: vs@justice.nsw.gov.au
Justice Precinct Offices, Level 1, 160 Marsden Street, Parramatta NSW 2150
Postal Address:
The Commissioner of Victims Rights, Victims Services, Locked Bag 5118, Parramatta NSW 2124

Passmores’ Building, Level 1, 432 Hunter St, Newcastle. PO Box 1310, Newcastle, NSW, 2300 (02) 4926 2711admin@vocal.org.au


Contact Pets and People 1300 431 450
24 / 7 pet loss support line
Pets and People was founded by Dr Micheal O’Donoghue and Penny Carroll B Ed, M Ed Studies (Guidance and Counselling),to provide a supportive process to help people through the grief often experienced through the loss of a companion animal.
At the same time, this website acts as a resource for articles and stories help you cope and heal in this difficult time.


Talk in person, 24 hours a day, call 1300 308 307
Need an interpreter?
Find the closest Professional Support in your area


1300 364 277

SANDS – miscarriage, stillbirth & newborn death support

National Office:
Sands Australia, Level 2, 990 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill, Victoria, 3128
Telephone: (03) 8652 5020
Email: admin@sands.org.au
or complete an enquiry form on the webpage

Sands is the miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death charity. We operate across Australia, supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby; working to improve the care bereaved parents receive by healthcare professionals and breaking the silence and taboo of baby death in today’s society.

Sands volunteers offer a real sense of understanding and hope; they too have been through the devastating loss of a baby.

An estimated one in four pregnancies (93,000) ends in miscarriage in Australia each year, while approximately 2,500 babies are either stillborn or die in the first 28 days after birth. Despite the fact that the death of a baby affects so many Australians, it remains a topic that is rarely spoken about in public.

State Offices:

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SANE Forums

Peer-to-peer support for people living with a mental health problem, and for their families and other carers.

SANE Australia is a national charity helping all Australians affected by mental illness

Guided by our vision and missionvalues and behaviours, we help people improve their lives and reduce the risk of suicide.



    • Information to help children


Homicide Victims Support Group
Phone 8833 8400

1800 191 777 (Toll free – 24 hours)

The Homicide Victims’ Support Group (Aust) Inc. (HVSG) is funded by Western Sydney Local Health District, along with generous donations from our members, friends, caring members of the public and our corporate sponsors.

The Homicide Victims’ Support Group (Aust) Inc. is a Registered Charity and is a deductible Gift Recipient (DGR). CFN number 15381.

“If you are worried about your reactions or feelings, please call us on

02 8833 8400 or

 toll free 1800 191 777 any time of the day or night. info@hvsgnsw.org.au

VICTIMS OF CRIME – Counselling

If someone close to you has been murdered, or if you have witnessed a homicide, there are several options for information and support.  If the homicide occurred in New South Wales, you may be eligible for 20 hours of free counselling under the Approved Counselling Service administered by Victims Services. For more information please go to the webpage All about counselling

You may wish to contact a grief counsellor at:

NSW Institute of Forensic Medicine at Glebe
(02) 8584 7800, or

Department of Forensic Medicine, Westmead
(02) 9845 6001.

The grief counsellor can provide you with support, counselling and information, including information about the coronial system. More information can be found at the State Coroner’s Court of New South Wales website State Coroner’s Court of New South Wales


Victims of Crime Assistance League (VOCAL)
Passmores’ Building,
Level 1, 432 Hunter St, Newcastle.

PO Box 1310, Newcastle, NSW, 2300

(02) 4926 2711
(02) 4961 4755 (Newcastle)


Located in Newcastle NSW,  our Victim Support Unit, funded via Department of Justice (Victims Services), operates within the Hunter Region of NSW and in Sydney. A unique organisation in NSW, we are a trauma-specific service that directly addresses trauma and its effects.

VOCAL Inc NSW is a gift-deductable charity assisting people harmed by crime, throughout NSW.  The Charity speaks the voices of real, law-abiding people who join to be part of an evolving strategy of care and positive change for crime victims in NSW.  Members can assist with advocacy – speaking out about what is needed, or what needs to change.  Positive systemic developments are possible through the Charity, so please join, and or support VOCAL Inc NSW.

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