Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Grief: A Normal and Natural Response to Loss

Most people who suffer a loss experience one or more of the following:

* Feel tightness in the throat or heaviness in the chest
* Feel thumping, erratic beats in the heart and are very aware of
heart actions
* Have an empty feeling in their stomach and loss (or gain) of
* Have pain and/or nausea in stomach
* Feel restless and look for activity, but have difficulty
* Feel in a trance, want to just sit and stare
* Feel as though the loss isn't real, that it didn't actually
happen; (this may include trying to find the loved one)
* Feel light headed and dizzy often
* Sense the loved one's presence ( this may include expecting the
person to walk in the door at the usual time, or hearing his/her
voice, or seeing his/her face)
* Have headaches frequently
* Wander aimlessly, forget and don't finish things they've started
to do around the house
* Have difficulty sleeping, and have dreams or visions of their
loved one frequently
* Assume mannerisms or traits of the loved one
* Feel guilty or angry over things that happened or didn't happen in
the relationship

These are all normal grief responses.

You may also experience:

* Disbelief:
You expect to wake up any minute from this nightmare. It can't be
true. You can't cry, because you don't believe it.
* Shock:
Nature softens the blow, temporarily. You are numb and dazed. Your
emotions are frozen. You go through the motions, like a robot.
* Crying:
Deep emotions suddenly well up, seeking release as loud sobbing
and crying. Give yourself time for tears. They can help.
* Physical Symptoms:
You may sleep or eat too little or too much. You may have physical
aches, pains, numbness, or weakness. Check with a doctor to rule
out other causes. Usually the symptoms fade gradually.
* Denial:
You know the fact of death but you forget. You expect your loved
one to telephone or walk in the door. You search for him/her.
* Why:
"Why did he/she have to die?" You dont expect an answer, but you
need to ask repeatedly. The question itself is a cry of pain.
* Repeating:
Over and over again, you tell the same story, think the same
thoughts. Repeating helps you to absorb the painful reality.
* Self-Control:
You control your emotions to fulfill your responsibilities or to
rest from the pain. Self-control can shape and give rhythm to your
grieving, but constant rigid self-control can block healing.
* Reality:
"It really happened." You feel you're getting worse. Actually,
reality has just hit, and support from friends and family may be
* Confusion:
You can't think. You forget in mid-sentence. You are disorganized
and impatient.
* Idealizing:
You remember only good traits, as if your loved one was perfect.
You find it hard to accept the not-so-perfect living. Your loved
one's idiosyncracies or imperfect traits become endearing
reminders of their realness, humanness.
* Identifying:
Wanting to stay close, you copy your loved one's style of dress,
hobbies, interests, or habits. You may carry a special object of
his or hers.
* Envy:
You envy others. Their pleasure in their loved ones makes you feel
keenly what you have lost. They don't deserve their good fortune.
* Frustration:
Your past fulfillment's are gone. You haven't found new ones yet.
You feel you're not coping with grief "right."
* Bitterness:
Temporary feelings of resentment and hatred, especially toward
those in some way responsible for your loss, are natural. But,
habitual bitterness can drain energy and block healing.
* Waiting:
The struggle is over, but your zest has not returned. You are in
limbo, exhausted, uncertain. Life seems flat.
* Hope:
You believe you will get better. The good days out balance the
bad. Sometimes you can work effectively, enjoy activities, and
really care for others.
* Missing:
You never stop missing your loved one. Particular days, places,
and activities can bring back the pain as intensely as ever.
* Commitment:
You know you have a choice. Life won't be the same, but you decide
to actively begin building a new life for yourself.
* Seeking:
You take initiative, renewing your involvement with former friends
and activities, and exploring new involvements.
* Hanging On:
Some days you hang on to the grief, which is familiar. Letting go
is more a final good-bye to your loved one. You let go gradually.
* Peace:
You can reminisce about your loved one with a sense of peace. You
feel able to accept the death and face your own future.
* Life Opens Up:
Life has value and meaning again. You can enjoy, appreciate, and
anticipate events. You are willing to let the rest of your life be
all it can be.

This list is a gift to you from Survivors from both Orange and San Diego
County. It has been compiled for you by Connie Saindon, MA, MFT,CTS

Connie Saindon, MA, MFC14266 Self-Help & Psychology Magazine,
Trauma Department Editor

Copyright (c) 1994-1997 by Pioneer Development Resources, Inc.
All rights reserved.

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