There is no time limit for resolving grief. Everyone goes through the experience at their own pace and it is important for them to have realistic expectations about the various reactions they may have.
Understanding Your Feelings of Grief
Grief is a normal reaction to loss that can literally turn your world upside down. Your emotions, thought processes, behaviors, and physical well-being are all affected by grief. Most people who suffer a loss experience one or more of the following reactions:
- Anger or increased irritability;
- Frustration or annoyance;
- Inability to concentrate;
- Change in appetite – eating more or losing appetite;
- Sleep disturbances – sleeping too much or not at all;
- Physical complaints;
- Sudden mood swings;
- Lack of energy.
There is no "time limit" for resolving feelings of grief. Everyone goes through the grief process at his or her own pace and it is important to have realistic expectations about the various reactions you will experience. For example, you can expect that:
- Your grief will take more energy than you would have ever imagined.
- Your grief will involve many changes and will be continually developing.
- Your grief will show itself in all spheres of life: psychological, social and physical.
- Your grief will depend upon how you perceive your loss.
- You will grieve for what you have lost already, and for what you have lost for the future.
- Your grief will entail mourning – not only for the person you lost – but for all the hopes, dreams and unfulfilled expectations you held for and with that person, and for the needs that will go unmet because of his or her death.
- Your loss will resurrect old issues, feelings and unresolved conflicts from the past.
- You will have some identity confusion, not only as a result of the loss, but also because you are experiencing reactions that may be quite different for you.
- You may have a combination of anger and depression that results in irritability, frustration, annoyance or intolerance.
- You will feel some anger and guilt, or at least some manifestations of these emotions.
- You may have a lack of self-concern.
- It is normal to feel suicidal; fantasizing about a reunion with your loved one can help you cope, but you should get help if you are concerned or make concrete suicide plans.
- You may experience grief spasms (acute upsurges of grief) that occur suddenly, with no warning.
- You will have trouble thinking and making decisions due to memory, organization and intellectual processing issues.
- You may be obsessed with death or preoccupied with the deceased.
- You may begin a search for meaning and may question your religion and/or philosophy of life.
- You may find yourself acting socially in ways that are different from before.
- You may find yourself having a number of physical reactions.
- You will find that society will have unrealistic expectations about your mourning and may respond inappropriately to you.
- You may find that there are certain dates, events and stimuli that bring upsurges in your grief.
- Certain experiences in later life may resurrect intense grief for you temporarily.
In summary, your grief will bring with it an intense amount of emotion that will surprise you and those around you. It will not only be more intense than you expected, but it will also be manifested in more areas and ways than you ever anticipated. Your individual experience will depend upon the meaning of your loss, your own personal characteristics, how the death occurred, your social support and your physical state.
More often than not, those who are grieving receive insufficient assistance from friends and society. For information about the various ways Hospice of Northwest Ohio can help, click on Grief and Loss.
For a list of Hospice of Northwest Ohio grief support groups, click on Support Groups.
For a list of books that may provide insight, click on Suggested Reading.