"Hope is like a bird that senses the dawn and carefully starts to sing while it is still dark" - Anonymous

Grief is a natural response to the loss of someone or something important to us. While it is usually associated with the death of a loved one, which is usually the most intense grief, we can experience grief and mourning in relation to many losses:
  • The breakup of a relationship
  • A Miscarriage
  • Loss of Job
  • Loss of financial security
  • Loss of health
  • Illness of a loved one
  • Loss of friendship
  • Death of a beloved pet
  • Loss of sense of security after a trauma
  • Loss of a dream
We all experience grief in our own way and the more significant the loss is to you the more intensely the grief may be felt. Even a subtle loss, almost imperceptible to others, may have a significant effect on us because it is our loss.

Mourning is a very personal and highly individual experience and how you grieve depends on the nature of the loss, your coping style, personality, life experience and your faith. It is a process which takes time and cannot be rushed.

Many studies describe the “Stages of Grief” as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. However, this can imply a neat, orderly way through the grief process and as with many things in life grief is neither neat nor orderly. It can more accurately be compared to the ocean – the waves of grief are sometimes small and calm and at other times raging and overwhelming. While we can expect the waves to be rougher and harder to ride in the beginning, hopefully calming as time goes on, it takes time to work though the loss and we can experience an overwhelming wave of grief at times when we least expect it. We need to be patient with ourselves as we go through the process.

While loss affects people in different ways, many people experience some of the following reactions to a loss or a death:
  • Shock & Disbelief:
    The loss of someone or something important to us can be so shocking that we find it difficult to believe it has actually happened. We can feel numb, unable to understand what has happened. We may continue to act as though it hasn’t happened, ie setting a place at the table for a loved one, expecting them to walk through the door, even though logically you know they won’t.

  • Sadness & Loneliness:
    The loss of a loved one can leave you feeling intensely sad and lonely. You may suffer profound sorrow, feeling empty and alone, particularly when you were used to a close day-to-day routine with that person. You may cry often and feel emotionally unstable.

  • Anger:
    Anger is a normal part of grieving as we look for some-one or something to blame for the loss of our loved one. We can become angry with the person we have lost, with ourselves, with God, with doctors, friends or family.

  • Guilt:
    Guilt is another common and very normal response when we are grieving, as we feel guilty at things unsaid or undone, or perhaps things that were said and done but were unresolved. We can sometimes blame ourselves for things as we reason that if we had done things differently perhaps the person would still be with us. While guilt is a normal and common reaction it is unjustified and can lead to anger and blame which only adds to our pain.

  • Fear & Anxiety:
    A significant loss can trigger a myriad of worries and fears in us. We may fear that we will be unable to cope with life without that person, or we may become acutely aware of our own mortality - leaving us feeling vulnerable and afraid of coping on our own.

  • Despair & Fatigue:
    You may feel that you cannot bear your pain any longer and may experience feeling tired and listless, with difficulty finding the energy for much of anything. For a normally energetic person this can be an unnerving experience and can be very stressful.
Grief is a natural response to loss and it helps us heal and come to terms with the very real fact that our life goes on and we must find ways of living with that loss. The symptoms and stages of grief described above are just some of the ways we react to loss and we all grieve in our own unique way.

However, although the pain and sadness of our loss never completely goes away its place at the centre of your life should diminish over time as you gradually begin to embrace life again. If you feel stuck in your grief or that your grief is affecting your health, relationships or ability to fully live your life, perhaps it is time to get professional help.

Counselling can help you to talk about your loss and how it is affecting you, and help you find ways to cope and heal. You can get through this frightening and overwhelming time and get to a place where healing can enrich and strengthen your life.