|Understandably, grief and loss can be a difficult topic to read about and so, while I highly appreciate your time, if you have experienced a loss recently, or are experiencing a tough time, please be mindful of your own emotions and well-being as some of the information in the post and series may be tough to read while in the midst of your own experience of loss.
Grief & Loss: What is it & What does it look like?
The first post in this series focusing on grief and loss interviewed Connie on the Bloggers Corner, who is a blogger who has been personally impacted by loss and has transformed her grief into a passion for supporting others and helping to prevent suicide. It can be very difficult to share a story of loss, no matter how much time has passed, and I sincerely thank Connie for being able to share her story with us.
In this post, we will explore the definition of grief and the symptoms associated with a response to loss. Other posts in this series include:
First Experience of Loss
Before we explore the definition of grief, let's explore your very first experience of loss. If you are feeling able, ask yourself:
My first experience of loss happened to be the loss of my pet bunny rabbit named BunBun (actual name). He went missing one day and never returned. I clearly remember this event, but at the time I did not have and adequate understanding of what loss actually means; the finality of losing something so dear to you.
I can recall the questions that came to mind about what happened to BunBun and the consequences of not finding him ever again. I remember the rush of sadness when I found out that he may never return and the deep pit of despair to think that I had lost my very first best friend. I really loved animals back then, and still do now. I can recall the sadness that I felt and the tears that streamed down my face a week later when the realization that BunBun was never to return.
Despite the fact that this loss happened so long ago, this memory is still so fresh in my mind, and it's an example of how strong the sense of loss can be and that we can carry these feelings with us far into future. Therefore, it can help to have an understanding of the process of loss in order to work through the stages of grief as a way of dealing with the pain of loss.
Now that we have explored an experience of loss, what exactly is grief? According to helpguide.org:
"Grief is a natural response to loss [and is] the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away."
My example of loss above included several causes that led to my experience of grief including the loss of a friendship as well as a bereavement or death. There are many other causes that could trigger a loss including:
Essentially the loss of anything that an individual has attributed meaning to can trigger the grieving process. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider how an individual may experience this loss, especially those who may not be able to articulate just how much pain their grief is causing.
Each person will experience a loss in a different way, and the severity of symptoms may also depend on the amount of value or meaning the loss had in their life.
A few things to remember about grief:
Many people may have heard of the five stage model first introduced by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross consisting of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. These stages are not intended to be linear, nor does everyone who experiences grief move through all, or any, of the stages. The grieving process is a complex and unique process and it's okay to experience different symptoms or stages than others.
Other symptoms of grief can include:
Learn about the science of heartbreak:
Continue to the next article in this series:
The Impact of of Experiencing Loss & Bereavement
References: onlyhealthy.com, helpguide.org, addictionhope.com
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