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What is Grief?

What is grief?
Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be.

Grief can be a roller coaster:
Instead of a series of stages, we might also think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning, the lows may be deeper and longer. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss. Even years after a loss, especially at special events.

Common signs and symptoms of grief:
While loss affects people in different ways, many experience the following symptoms when they’re grieving. Just remember that almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal—including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious beliefs.

  • Shock and disbelief – It can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting him or her to show up, even though you know he or she is gone.
  • Sadness – Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.
  • Guilt – You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. You may also feel guilty about certain feelings (e.g. feeling relieved when the person died after a long, difficult illness). After a death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing more you could have done.
  • Anger – Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry and resentful. You may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.
  • Fear – A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.
  • Physical symptoms – We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.

We need to be able to watch out for each other: When someone we know is isolating, we need to find a way to offer them support and help and hope. When coping skills for an individual and a community are no longer effective, exhaustion sets in. When we are exhausted, we often do things we would not ordinarily do. During this time of grieving it is so very important to come together as a community and to support each other and to begin to heal.

If you are having trouble with a loss or feeling hopeless, please consider these resources for help:

Lorie Fuller, Gunnison Valley Health Behavioral Health Specialist: (970) 318-6323
The Center for Mental Health (local) offers 24-hour crisis care at no cost: (970) 252-6220.
Group and individual therapy at the local Center for Mental Health: (970) 642-4600
Crisis Text Line: Text “Help” to 741-741
The State of Colorado also has a 24-hour crisis/talk line available at no cost: (844) 493-8255 (talk).