Understanding Grief

Understanding grief

Grief is the normal essential response to the death of a loved one and each individual’s grief is unique and very personal. Factors that can influence grief include:

  • previous experience and resilience
  • the closeness of the relationship
  • the circumstances surrounding the death
  • cultural background and belief systems
  • family, friends and availablity of social support network

The length of time that the feelings associated with grief are experienced can vary considerably from person to person. The death of a child or the unexpected death of a loved one in traumatic circumstances, for example suicide, will have a particularly profound impact.

Responses associated with grief

There are a number of emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual responses to bereavement which are common and can include:

  • shock, disbelief, sadness, numbness, anger, guilt, self-reproach, fear, blame, regrets, anxiety, depression, relief, longing, strength
  • collapse, screaming, physical pain, insomnia, tiredness, headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, poor concentration
  • social withdrawal leading to isolation
  • bargaining with God, blaming God, leaning on God, searching for meaning, loss of faith.

Whilst these are natural responses, they can be overwhelming, particularly around the time of death. As time progresses bereaved people describe ‘waves of grief’ increasing and decreasing in intensity as they adjust to their loss.

See also: Supporting Bereaved People and Theories of Grief