Learn how to recognize emotional reactions often felt with loss.
- Most common emotional reactions of grief are seen with the expression of sadness, helplessness, anger, disappointment, and frustration. Certainly anger and helplessness may be present if one believes that the death could have been prevented. People may also describe feeling stuck or numb, like they're sort of frozen in a limbo state and almost kind of frozen to life, physically alive, but absent joy or the experience of aliveness and absent looking forward to new and engaging experiences where they find it difficult to have fun or feel happy or excited because they remain a bit fearful of reengaging fully in one's life, afraid to take the risks to be out there and to be hurt again. It's also common for people to describe feeling guilty. Sometimes it surfaces as one thinks about moving forward in life and feeling guilty emerges, especially if one believes that, you know what, I could have done something more. Now, in some cases, that actually may be true. Or you know what, perhaps it's actually always true. Any one of us could've always done something more before someone died. But we actually don't keep this level of vulnerability in our everyday awareness. And as a consequence, we don't act on it. Now, I also believe this expression of feeling guilty and I could have done more is really our response to feeling helpless in the face of death, that we are helpless to prevent it in the moment that it comes and helpless to prevent it at all. And it is out of our helplessness in this face of this truth that we say we feel guilty. Yet that very guilt distracts us from our genuine feelings of sadness, helplessness, and more. Grief is often more complicated or difficult to move through, and it also takes more time to process. When death is tragic and traumatic or quick and unexpected or there are multiple deaths in a short period of time or there is a strain or a conflictual relationship with someone who's died or when it occurs intentionally by human hands, whether violence perpetrated by someone else or by suicide and one's own hand. And grief is also more complicated when it is out of order, with a spouse dying young or the death of a child dying before a parent. Oddly there is a name for loss of a spouse. It's widow or widower. Or the loss of a parent, we might say orphan. But there is no word to describe what to call oneself when you have lost a child. Because we expect death to occur in the natural order of age. And for most of us, there is no time that will be right, and there is no good time for death nor for any of the losses we might encounter.
- Understanding difficult feelings
- Defining grief
- Dealing with loss and change
- Supporting grieving colleagues
- Returning to work