What Is Grief?
- Grief is a reaction to loss.
- The way we experience grief is very individual; we each grieve in our own way.
- There are no universal “stages” to grief—grief is as individual as a fingerprint or a snowflake.
- People may have different “styles” of grieving. Some people may express their grief verbally, or cry easily; other people may channel their grief into activity. All of these responses are normal; how we grieve is not a measure of how we love.
- There is no timetable for grief. Over time, the pain lessens, and we return to similar—sometimes better-levels of functioning.
Am I Expected to Grieve?
Grief is not predictable
Each person's loss is unique; we cannot time and plot our reactions. Grief can be thought of like a roller coaster. It is full of ups and downs, highs and lows, times that we may think we are doing better, and times that we are sure we are not. Our sense of progress may feel very uneven.
Grief impacts each of us differently
Because each loss is unique, we may experience a wide range of emotions. For some, the experience of grief may be physical: aches and pains, difficulty eating or sleeping, fatigue. Grief can affect our spiritual selves, too; our relationship with our faith beliefs may diminish or grow stronger.
Grief is full of different tasks and processes
As we cope with the emotional, physical, and spiritual reactions to the loss, we also work to accept the reality of the loss, redefine our beliefs in the face of this new reality, readjust to the daily changes in our lives, and decide the ways we will remember the person who died.
Grief does not mean the end of connection
Life will be different, and sometimes difficult; we need to be gentle with ourselves. But we always continue a bond with the person who has died. The lessening of grief is not the end of memory or attachment; death does not end a relationship.