What is grief?

The feelings of grief can be caused by a loss of something or someone valuable to you. The pain of loss can feel overwhelming and can affect your life in ways you might not have thought. Everyone copes with loss differently, and how you grieve may differ from someone else. The more significant your loss, the more intense your grief can be.  

What can cause grief?

Grief can be caused by a number of situations such as;

      The death of a loved one

      A break-up or divorce

      Diagnosis of a chronic illness

      Losing a job

      A miscarriage

      Death of a pet

      Loss of a friendship

      A trauma

Grief is not always caused by a big loss and even something like graduating from school or moving out of the family home can trigger feelings of grief due to the change. 

Different symptoms of grief 

  1.     The most obvious way grief can have an impact is through your emotions. You may be extremely emotional, cry, feel angry or even hysterically laugh. On the other end of the spectrum, you may find yourself feeling empty and emotionless.  
  1.     Grief can manifest itself physically. You may experience symptoms like weight loss due to loss of appetite, weight gain due to increased appetite, headaches, stomach cramping, nausea, shortness of breath, hair loss and fatigue. 
  1.     Grief can affect cause stress and may impact relationships. You may find yourself more irritable and regularly lashing out, withdrawn, and unable to communicate how you feel. Friends, family, work colleagues, and even perfect strangers may be at the other end of your emotions.
  1.     Grief may affect judgement. Changes in behaviour may result due to adverse coping strategies, like drinking alcohol and drug-taking. 
  1.     Grief may affect your performance at work. Even after time off to deal with a loss, grief may impact your ability to focus, forgetness, feeling overwhelmed, impatient and you may question if you should stay at your job. Big decisions should not be made during a time of grieving. 

An important thing to understand is to find support with others. You can talk to friends or family, or even seek the help of a psychologist to help you cope with your grief. A psychologist will be able to talk through your feelings and provide you with practical strategies to cope.

If you or someone you know is experiencing grief and you want professional help, contact Harnessing Wellness to arrange a session with a psychologist. 

Harnessing Wellness is run by Naomi Rossthorn, a psychologist in the Yarra Ranges who has a special focus on trauma victims, PTSD sufferers and equine-assisted psychology research.