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Grief itself is a normal process. It’s the price we pay for having relationships with others in our lives.

What is Normal?

By definition normal means ‘midway between two extremes’. As with any other process grief has its range of median reactions with areas of extreme on either side.

Here are some emotions which survivors may experience. Keep in mind that these emotions are normal in nature and should become less severe and less frequent as time passes.

  • abnormal eating patterns (can’t eat; can’t stop eating)
  • anger
  • confusion
  • dazed feeling
  • denial
  • depression
  • despair
  • fear
  • guilt
  • isolation
  • relief (yes, and guilt for feeling it, too)
  • sadness
  • sleep disturbances (can’t sleep; fear of sleeping)

The fact that you feel these emotions should not cause undue alarm. You may, in fact, feel things that are not listed here, and that’s OK, too.

Probably, no one person will feel all of these symptoms, and no two people will feel any of the symptoms with the same level of intensity at the same time.

Is Professional Help Needed?

There may be times, however, when we’ve been stressed beyond the scope of our resources and our emotions fall into one of the extreme zones.

This is when the price of grief can be too high for any one person to pay. Even the most supportive of families or groups may not be able to help a survivor pay the emotional price of the loss of a loved one. It’s at this time that professional help should be considered.

There are some ‘red flags’ that signal an inability to cope with grief. If you observe these in yourself or others, professional help should be suggested.

Since we may not see these signals in ourselves pay particular attention to what others say to you. If you feel you may fit into this category, you may want to ask a trusted friend or relative to read through this list and give you their honest opinion:

  • apparent absence of grief
  • hyperactivity and prolonged restlessness
  • assuming the symptoms of the one who died
  • psychosomatic illnesses
  • emotional numbness
  • abrupt or severe changes in lifestyle
  • self-destructive behavior
  • long-lasting or very deep depression
  • hostility
  • rage
  • continued inappropriate emotional outbursts
  • thoughts or talk of suicide

In addition to these ‘flags’, if you have suffered several losses in a short period of time your emotional symptoms of grief may be within the normal range, but you may not have a sufficient reserve of emotional strength to deal with them. You may consider some professional counseling in this instance even if you feel you are handling things pretty well.

Counselors, therapists, social workers, and others who have been trained in grief and loss should be readily available to everyone. Check with your primary care physician, your insurance carrier, your HMO, or your state or local departments of social services.

There should be no hesitation or stigma attached to getting help dealing with the emotions caused by loss.

Read our resources on grief and loss.

Home ] Grief and Loss ]Grief Hurts ] Stages ] [ Emotions ] Help ] Letting Go ]


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