Losing someone or something you love is very painful. After a significant loss, you may experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt
. Sometimes it may feel like the sadness will never let up. These feelings can be frightening and overwhelming.
There are healthy ways to cope with this pain.
What causes us to grieve?
You may associate grief with the death of a loved one, but any loss can cause grief, including:
A relationship breakup
Loss of health
Losing a job
Loss of financial stability
Death of a pet
Loss of a cherished dream
A loved one’s serious illness
Loss of a friendship
Loss of safety after a trauma
You might also experience grief after moving away from home, graduating from college, changing jobs, selling your family home, or retiring from a career you loved.
The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people:
- Do not grieve alone
- Connecting to others will help you heal
- Talk to a therapist or grief counselor
- If your grief feels like too much to bear, call a mental health professional with experience in grief counseling
If the pain of the loss is so constant and severe that it keeps you from resuming your life, you may be suffering from complicated grief.
Complicated grief is like being stuck in an intense state of mourning. You may have trouble accepting the death long after it has occurred or be so preoccupied with the person who died that it disrupts your daily routine and undermines your other relationships. If you think you or someone you know may be experiencing complicated grief it's important to to recognize the signs and symptoms of complicated grief
and to get help right away.
The difference between grief and depression
Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression
isn’t always easy. However, there are ways to tell the difference. Grief can be a roller coaster. It involves a wide variety of emotions and a mix of good and bad days. Even when you’re in the middle of the grieving process, you will have moments of pleasure or happiness. With depression
, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.
Other symptoms that suggest depression, not just grief:
Intense, pervasive sense of guilt.
Thoughts of suicide or a preoccupation with dying.
Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness.
Slow speech and body movements
Inability to function at work, home, and/or school.
Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there.
To learn more about the signs and symptoms of clinical depression, see The Symptoms of Depression
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