Grief and Loss Resources

Grief is a natural response to losing something or someone important to you. It is unique to every person and every loss, and it is a process that unfolds over time. 

After news of a loss, you may feel as if you are in shock. You may notice physical changes such as racing heart, muscle weakness, or nausea. You may experience emotional reactions such as becoming angry - at a situation, a particular person, or just angry in general. It is very common in grief to experience guilt or regrets. You may also experience cognitive changes such as strange dreams or nightmares, absent-mindedness, trouble with concentration and attention, or lack of motivation for work or socializing. These feelings and behaviors are normal during grief, and they will pass. You may also find you do not have any strong responses and that is OK too. 

Common Grief Reactions 

  • Shock and disbelief: You may feel numb, or have trouble believing that the loss really happened. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting them to show up, have the impulse to call or text them, etc., even though you know they’re gone. 
  • Sadness: Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable. 
  • Guilt: You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do during the person’s life. You may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing you could have done. 
  • Anger: Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry at yourself, the medical providers, or even the person who died for abandoning you. 
  • Fatigue: Grief can be very heavy and cause a great deal of fatigue, which can be made worse by grief-related insomnia. 
  • Anxiety: A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. These may include fears about mortality, of facing life without that person, or of losing others. 
  • Physical symptoms: Grieving can be expressed in physical symptoms, including appetite changes, sleep changes, and variety of aches and pains such as headaches or stomach aches. 

Coping Strategies

  • Connect regularly with people who are supportive. Good connections are healing. 
  • Accept help from others. Even if you take pride in being self-sufficient or stoic, accept help in the spirit in which it is offered. Oftentimes, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what you need – whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or just having someone to hang out with while you study, take a walk, or watch a movie. 
  • Acknowledge and accept your feelings without judgment. Practice self-compassion and acceptance. 
  • Express yourself. Talk to others about how you are feeling, write about your loss in a journal, make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the person’s life or consider other creative modes of expression. 
  • Prioritize your physical health. Eat regular meals, even if you don’t feel like it, drink lots of water, and move your body. Moderate exercise is one of the best stress relievers around. Get as much rest as possible and try to keep a regular bedtime and waking time to help minimize sleep disruption 
  • Maintain a flexible routine. As much as you can, engage in your regular daily activities. 
  • Don’t compare your grief response to anyone else’s. Other people’s reactions may be different than yours and that is okay. 
  • Nurture your spiritual practice if you have one. This may be formal or informal religious practice, or non-religious spiritual practices such as meditation, reflection, and body-based practice such as yoga. 
  • Continue doing some of the things that you enjoy and that bring you comfort. 

If you are feeling hopeless or despairing, or if you are having thoughts of death, reach out to a mental health professional right away. 

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