Understanding Grief

The death of someone close to us can be an extremely stressful event. Everyone reacts to this occurrence differently and some may need external help, but we all need time to heal. Knowing how to deal with loss is an essential aspect of mental health


If someone close to you has recently passed away, we hope these words help you understand that you are not alone and that help is available should you need it. If you know someone who has recently lost a loved one, we hope these words can teach you how to help them through this time.


Grief is complex and can occur in many stages. If is normal to experience rapid mood changes and excruciating sadness through this process. They are all natural reactions to loss. People need time to heal. How long exactly depends on the situation and the person. Grief is not a weakness, it is necessary. Repressing your emotions can bring more harm in the long run. Grief helps us refocus on the future.


The Different Stages of Grief

There are many stages of grief, but the most common three are listed below. The order of occurrence differs between people and some may find themselves going back and form between two stages. The length of each stage also varies.


Stage 1: shock and numbness

After learning about the death, you may experience a period of numbness where nothing seems real. This period may last anytime between a few weeks to a few months.


Stage 2: Breaking down

Eventually, the shock will recede and your feelings will return to you. You may experience physical symptoms such as tightness of throat, shortness of breath, frequent sighing, or extreme fatigue. The emotional toll will be painful; you may experience overwhelming anger or remorse. You may feel the need to recall the deceased’s life and the memories you had with them. You may even feel guilt for the things you did or should’ve done.


It can be frightening to be unable to control your emotions, but remember that this is a painful time and sudden mood changes are normal. This period may last anytime between a few weeks to a few years.


Stages 3: Reconstruction

Ultimately, you will be no longer immersed in your loss but can refocus on the trivial tasks of everyday life. You may allow companionship back into your life. You may have a new found respect for life, human values, and experiences.



How to help someone in grief

Unless you have been invited, it can be very difficult to share someone else’s grief. It is normal to feel useless or guilty, but there are ways you can help depending on what stage of grief they are at.


Stage 1: be a supporter.

Help them with menial tasks such as cooking or arranging the funeral.


Stage 2: be a listener.

Accept their emotional outbursts and fulfill their need to talk about their loss.


Stage 3: be a friend.

Help them re-connect with the world; encourage them to participate in social activities and hobbies.



How to deal with your own pain

  1. Be with those who care about you or those who share a similar pain.
  2. Let time alleviate the pain.
  3. Express your emotions by talking to someone or crying.
  4. Accept a change in lifestyle where you may be less concerned with those around you
  5. Seek help. Don’t always wait for others to take the first step, if you require company, let people know.
  6. Take care of your body. If grief is affecting your health, let your doctor know.
  7. Help others who are also grieving. When helping children, be honest and encourage them to express their feelings
  8. When the pain has lessened, return to your interests and hobbies, or even try something new.
  9. Delay important life decisions such as moving, marriage, or children. Grieving can affect your judgement resulting in added stress.