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Common Grief Reactions


August 29, 2022
In recognition of National Grief Awareness Day, on August 30, 2022, Maria Joseph would like to share the different reactions to grieving.

After a loss, there is no specific way of grieving that is right or wrong, and there is not a "normal" length of time to grieve. While everyone experiences grief differently, there are many common grief reactions:


Physiologically

Grief may disrupt sleep patterns, cause changes in stress hormones and health, and lead to physical symptoms such as weakness, trouble breathing, restlessness and immune system changes.

Emotionally

Strong feelings of sadness, loneliness, fear, anxiety, resentment and/or anger can occur. Some people who are in mourning may feel a sense of guilt when they start to re-engage in activities and relationships as if they are somehow betraying the person who died.

Mentally

The bereaved person may have trouble accepting the loss, have difficulty concentrating and making decisions, and experience changes to their sense of identity or the belief that their future is disrupted. They may sometimes avoid thinking about the loss while, at other times, they may be unable to stop thinking about it. They may find themselves making special efforts to include the person's memory in their life. They may fear forgetting the person who died or fear losing fond memories of their time with that person.

Socially

The bereaved person may experience loneliness, boredom, social withdrawal, lack of confidence, emotional sensitivity (or feeling "overemotional"), self-consciousness, as well as difficulties developing new relationships.

While these reactions are common after the loss of someone close, the extent to which they occur depends upon many factors. The nature of the relationship with the deceased, the grieving person's personality style and typical coping strategies and the environment in which the person works or lives can all play a role. Some people do not appear to need to grieve as deeply as others, even for those they most love. In addition, the bereaved can sometimes feel as much relief as sorrow, especially when the person who died had been suffering or in pain.

For more information on reactions to grief, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website below.

More Information

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