What are normal causes of grief?
Grief is a common experience and it is the normal reaction to a significant loss. A significant loss is a broad term that captures anything that added value, meaning, purpose, or identity. This loss could be the death of a friend or family member, the death of a pet, divorce, relationship breakups, broken friendships, miscarriage or still births, disability, loss of a body part, disease, chronic illness, retirement, loss of employment, or relocation or moving. The common theme in grief is the loss of something that was significant.
How do people respond to grief?
Reactions to grief may include:
Tears, sadness, depression
Anger, irritability, outbursts, regression in behavior
Lack of trust in yourself and the world
Naivete and innocence is broken
Become over-busy, distracted, forgetful
Changes in sleep, appetite, and hygiene
Pretend to be fine, feel a pressure to be the "strong one"
Responses to grief will vary based on temperament, personality, life circumstances, previous stressors, and accumulated losses. The same loss will never have the same impact.
When should we be concerned about someone"s grief reaction?
An immediate red flag and warning sign is when you or someone else has thoughts, plans, or intentions of suicide, homicide, or self-harm. If you or others are considering suicide, homicide, or self-harm then it is essential to reach out to professional help right away.
Other concerning factors include any over-use or abuse of drugs, alcohol, food, or sleeping pills; an inability to meet basic needs of sleep, nutrition, and personal hygiene; continued avoidance of normal activities; continued avoidance and isolation from friends/family; or persistent symptoms of depression, anger, denial, anxiety, and hallucinations.
These symptoms, thoughts, or behaviors are strong indicators of the need to reach out to professional help with a counselor, doctor, or psychiatrist who can actively support someone through grief recovery.
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