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Dealing with Grief

Grief is the normal response to sorrow, emotion, and confusion that comes from losing someone or something important to you. It is a natural part of life. Grief is a typical reaction to death, divorce, job loss, a move away from family or friends, or loss of good health due to illness.

Just after a death or loss, you may feel empty and numb, as if you are in shock.  You may notice physical changes such as trembling, nausea, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. Those in grief often have trouble sleeping and eating.

You may become angry—at a situation, at a person, or just angry in general. Almost everyone in grief also experiences guilt. Guilt is often expressed as “I could have, I should have, and I wish I would have” statements.

People in grief may have strange dreams or nightmares. They may be absentminded, withdraw socially, or lack the desire to return to work. While these feelings and behaviors are normal during grief, they will pass.

Every person who experiences a death or other loss goes through part or all of a four-step grieving process. First, accept the loss. Second, work through and feel the physical and emotional pain of grief. Third, adjust to living in a world without the person or item lost. Fourth, move on with life. People may not go through the grieving process in the same order of steps or in the same ways.

So how does grief differ from depression? Depression is more than a feeling of grief. Clinical depression is a whole body disorder. It can take over the way you think and feel. 

Symptoms of depression include the following: changes in sleep patterns; feeling worthless or helpless; low energy or fatigue; thoughts of death or suicide; weight loss or weight gain; loss of interest in what you used to enjoy; and trouble concentrating or remembering. 

If you recently experienced a death or other loss, these feelings may be a part of a normal grief reaction. But if these feelings persist with no change in mood, ask for help. Talk with a friend, a teacher, or a coworker. Call your doctor and tell him or her how you are feeling.

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© 2015 by Southwest Adult Basic Education

Project made financially possible through grants from:

Southwest Initiative Foundation, Marshall Community Foundation, Southwest Regional Transition Partners, Southwest Adult Basic Education, Marshall Healthcare Partners

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