Those of us who are grieving may feel like we are living in a different world from everyone else. While others go on freely about their day-to-day, we may feel a great heaviness that colors everything we do. Even the smallest tasks can seem hard, and the most pleasurable activities can feel empty. In moments of acute grief when we are swept over by sadness, it may feel like life has lost all its color and vibrancy. Depending on the relationship we had with the person who has passed, we may also find ourselves grappling with other intense feelings such as anxiety, anger, and regret. In almost all cases, there is a feeling of disorientation, like the way we understood the world when the person was with us no longer makes sense. All of these feelings and sensations can overwhelm us. Grief is ultimately a process that we must go through to find a new way of being in the world, and a new way of holding the memory of the one we lost. There is no going around it. Grief counseling can help with this process and give us a sense of safety and support when we are feeling our most vulnerable and need it the most.
My grief is overwhelming me. What should I be feeling?
Grief is complicated and everyone will experience it differently. While intense sadness is the most recognizable feeling that comes with grief, there are many other feelings that may arise, including:
Shock and disbelief: In the immediate aftermath of a loss, it’s common for people to feel shocked and struggle to accept what’s happened. This can manifest as numbness, denial, or difficulty believing the loss has occurred.
Anger: Many people feel anger and resentment. This can be directed towards oneself, towards the person who has passed away, towards doctors for not preventing the death, or even towards the world in general.
Guilt: People often replay situations over and over in their minds, thinking about what they could have done differently, or regretting things they said or didn’t say.
Anxiety: A major loss often upends our sense of security in the world. Anxiety during grief may range from general nervousness to outright panic attacks. We may start to fear that other losses could occur in the future and find it harder to trust our sense of connection to the people around us.
Disorganization, Confusion, Searching, Yearning: This is one of the most difficult parts of the grief journey—trying to make sense of life and reorient ourselves to the world around us following our loss.
I am struggling to manage my day-to-day and don’t feel like myself. Is this normal?
This is very normal. Grieving involves strong feelings, but it can also impact us in a number of other ways, including:
Physical Symptoms: Grief often comes with physical symptoms like fatigue, nausea, weight loss or weight gain, and other unexplained aches and pains.
Feeling detached or disoriented: People experiencing grief may feel like they’re living in a dream, or that the world is unreal.
Difficulty concentrating: Grieving is demanding and preoccupying, and can make it hard to concentrate, remember things, or make decisions.
Depression: Sometimes, the initial shock of a loss can give way to a deep sense of depression. This may be accompanied by symptoms like difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and loss of pleasure in previously enjoyed activities.
Increased Drug & Alcohol Use: Because grief can be so intense, many people find themselves attempting to quell that intensity through drugs and alcohol.
Time Distortion: People in grief may lose track of what day or time it is, and time may sometimes seem to proceed rapidly, and seem frozen at other times.
Self-Focus: Grieving people are often less attentive to the needs of others and have less energy for those needs. This is their body’s way of telling them that they need to con-serve energy for mourning and is nothing to be ashamed of.
Grief counseling can help you make sense of and move through your grief
Grieving is difficult. We often feel our most raw and vulnerable while we grieve, and getting support at this time can be critical to helping us regain our emotional footing so that we can both honor the person we’ve lost and find a way to be present and participatory in our ongoing lives.
If we meet, I will work to foster a safe and affirming environment where you can explore your feelings and make sense of them without the fear of judgment or invalidation that you may experience in talking to others who may not know how to react to your grief. If you are feeling overwhelmed or unable to keep up with your day-to-day, I can help you develop coping skills to find a balance between grieving and attending to the affairs of your life. Ultimately, I will assist you in making meaning from your grief and charting a path forward that both respects the gravity of your loss and makes space to restore your spirit.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking with which they were created.” - Albert Einstein
Grief can lead to a host of emotional challenges. People going through grief often feel vulnerable and have heightened anxiety. They may find themselves feeling more reactive and struggling to control anger. If they feel overwhelmed with the duties of their day-to-day life and are struggling to stay on top of things, grief can also contribute to symptoms of depression.