While grief and loss affects people in different ways, most people have responses that are common when they are grieving. Feeling like you’re going crazy, in a bad dream, or on a roller coaster of emotions is pretty much normal. Since every relationship is unique, how a person grieves is unique to that relationship. If feeling awful is your thing, then you are right on track.
Other normal reactions can include everything from wanting to eat everything in sight to not wanting to eat at all. I remember when my best friend died I felt like I was in a fog for days. I sat at work (I am still not sure how I got there) and just stared at the computer. I couldn’t sleep without thinking about her. I thought I was going crazy. Now that I am a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist®, I realize my feelings were actually no different than what most grievers experience.
Common Responses to grief and loss can include:
Sadness – Extreme sadness is the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, or deep loneliness. You may not even have the words to describe the emotions you are experiencing. You may cry until you have no more tears. You may not feel like crying at all.
Numbness – After a loss you may feel numb physically, emotionally or spiritually. You may begin to feel numb in all these areas right after the loss has occurred. You may feel like it is not really happening.
Anger – If you lost a loved one, you may be angry with yourself, God, the Hospital, or even your loved one for abandoning you. Anger results because what happened was so out of your control. There has to be someone you can blame, right?
Fear – Loss often triggers worry and fear. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. You begin to worry or have fears about your future. How will I be able to cope?
Changes in Appetite – In some cases you may feel like eating everything in sight. For example, you don’t normally eat sweets but after a loss find yourself heading for a big piece of chocolate cake. In other cases, you may not want to eat at all. The very sight of food makes you feel nauseous. Both extremes are very common when grieving.
Changes in Sleep Patterns – Just like with food, sleep patterns can go to either extreme. You may want to crawl in bed, pull the covers over your head and never get up; or you may never want to close your eyes again.
Physical Symptoms – Although grief is emotional, it can often physically. Your heart may literally feel broken or your stomach like it was sucker-punched. It’s very common for a griever to experience a variety of aches and pains.
Whatever you are going through is normal and natural. You are not going crazy. Since grief is individual and unique – whatever you are going through is just right for you. Be sad. Be numb. Be tired. Most importantly, communicate how you are feeling – even if you do feel terrible. Your heart and your body will thank you. Grief is one instance where feeling terrible is actually a good thing.
Sending you love, comfort and peace!