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  • Writer's pictureSophia Carter


Updated: Jun 8, 2021

Grief is one the most painful and heartbreaking occurrences that we experience in this journey called life. Yet, it is almost guaranteed that we will all experience it at some point in some way. Most of us already have. Grief can stop us dead in our tracks. It may seem like time has stopped and you’re confused as to how everyone else can continue to go on about their daily routines as though nothing catastrophic has happened. They say that to have loved and lost is better than to have never loved at all. But what they don’t say is just how deeply painful that loss is.

Grief looks different for everyone. We all have our own unique ways of coping with loss. Some grieve by talking about the deceased loved one at length, recalling all the positive memories and moments they shared. Some grieve by retreating to isolation to sob their pain out in solitude. Unfortunately, in some cases people resort to substance use to self-medicate for relief of the agonizing pain.

Grief does not only apply to the death of a loved one. It can also apply to:

· divorces and breakups

· the loss of a job

· the loss of one’s home

· the loss of a pet (which definitely also counts as a loved one) .

· the death of a celebrity or public figure that you admired

· the loss of a bodily function (e.g. blindness, paralysis, amputation, mastectomy, etc.)

It bears mentioning, however, that grief can also occur when we lose something that we were less than happy with anyway. As aforementioned, a perfect example of this is divorce. The loss of someone that you loved deeply that you expected to always have in your life can be incredibly saddening, even if you know it’s what’s best for you. Divorce grief tends to impacts self-esteem and one’s sense of identity.

Grief can also disrupt your routine and sense of stability. If your daily routine revolved around caring for an elderly or sick relative, you might find yourself disoriented and confused about what to do next. Your identity may have been so deeply entangled with caring for this person that you are now questioning who you are, what your purpose is, and what life’s next step is for you.


Grief is our natural response to anything or anyone that we had an emotional attachment to. Common feelings associated with grief include, but are not limited to, depression, numbness, anger, denial, guilt, regret, and, in some cases, relief. Relief is particularly common when the loved one had been sick and dying for quite some time. In these cases, the grieving process likely started well before the loved one actually passed away.


Generally, grief improves with time. However, grief can also be complicated. Complicated grief occurs when the pain and heartache of grief persists for an exceptional period of time without improvement. Complicated grief is common when a loved is lost to unexpectedly, traumatically, by homicide, by suicide, or if the relationship was significantly strained at the time of the death of the loved one. People with complicated grief seem to be unable to move forward with life.

Healthy signs that someone is coping well with grief include:

· Accepting the reality of your loss

· Allowing yourself to experience the pain of your loss

· Adjusting to a new reality in which the deceased is no longer present

· Having other relationships

· Reaching out to others for social support/Accepting the support offered to you

· Maintaining a healthy sleep regiment and healthy appetite

Conversely, unhealthy signs that might indicate complicated grief include:

  • Refusing to accept the loss

  • Keeping the persons home, bedroom, belongings intact as though they might return

  • Speaking of the deceased in present tense

  • Refusing to discuss the loss

  • Avoiding any conversations about the deceased

  • Becoming angry or upset when someone mentions the deceased

  • Not creating new routines or finding new hobbies/jobs after the loss

  • Refusing to allow new relationships in your life.

  • Avoiding socializing

  • Refusing to date

  • Refusing to get a new pet

  • Refusing to look for new work.

  • Believing that the loss was one’s fault or that they could have prevented the death

  • Increased concern or anxiety about one’s own mortality

  • Having survivor’s guilt

  • Feeling like life isn’t worth living without the loved one

  • Experiencing symptoms of depression

  • Persistent crying

  • Sleep disturbances

  • Significant appetite changes

  • Suicidal ideation

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in your normal activities


Grief in and of itself, it not a mental illness. It is a natural response to loss. However, loss and bereavement are considered risk factors for the development of psychiatric and medical conditions. “Vulnerability to physical illness and mortality are increased during the first 2 years of bereavement, with men at higher risk than women. Vulnerability to physical illness and mortality are increased during the first 2 years of bereavement, with men at higher risk than women (Biondi and Picardi, 1996, p. 1).”


This is why it is so imperative to connect with a therapist who specializes in grief counseling as soon as possible. Grief is

not something to cure. It’s something to process and work through. A grief counselor can help you find the best ways for you to move forward and reconstruct pieces of your life after a loss. Rhapsody Behavioral Healthcare’s grief counselor will never tire of hearing about your loss. In fact, we look forward to hearing about your experience and assisting along your journey to healing. Contact us today to schedule your first session.

At times, people with complicated grief may consider suicide. If you're thinking about suicide, talk to someone you trust. If you think you may act on suicidal feelings, call 911 or your local emergency services number right away. Or call a suicide hotline number. In the United States, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor.

M. Biondi, & A. Picardi. (1999). Psychological Stress and Neuroendocrine Function in Humans: The Last Two Decades of Research. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 68(3), 114–150.

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