Common Symptoms of Grief
- Shock and disbelief: It’s hard to accept a death. You may feel numb and question whether the loss really happened — this isn’t unusual. Some have noted their initial reluctance to even notify others of a loss in case it turned out to be untrue. This is a normal reaction, as is still expecting someone to call or write or show up, even if intellectually you have accepted their death.
- Sadness: Profound sadness is a universal experience, and can often lead to a feeling of aloneness or isolation. We sometimes believe that no one can understand the depth of our grief, which drives us deeper into sorrow.
- Guilt: You may feel guilt over things you said or did — or those you didn’t and felt you should have. In cases of suicide, many people question whether they could have changed the outcome somehow. Yet there is nothing that can stand in the way of death or a final decision made by someone else, and over time we have to acknowledge and accept that. Still, it’s difficult to do in the early days or months of grieving.
- Anger: Regardless of how someone we loved died, anger often comes into play. You may be angry with the person for not being here anymore, or with caregivers for not doing more. You may blame God or others. Or you may not be able to direct your anger against a specific source, but find that everyday, small injustices seem much bigger than they might have in the past. This is normal, and no one should tell you that you have to stop or let go of your anger — that will happen eventually as part of your process, on your own timeline.
- Fear: A loss can trigger fear on many levels — fear of your own mortality, of losing those you love, of facing life without the person who has died. It can include fear of the future and the uncertainty you may now feel about your life’s plans, knowing that someone close to you has died.
- Physical pain: We often think of grief as emotional, but it can manifest physically as well. Symptoms can include nausea, fatigue, lowered immunity, weight loss or gain, insomnia, aches and pains and more. Although it can be quite difficult, it’s important to do what you can to maintain your health during grief.