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In my practice, I use grief as an umbrella term which includes death such as that as a parent, child, partner or pet. I have also come to see over time, that major life transitions, ones which alter our sense of self, can also have elements of grief. For example, caring for an aging or ill parent, partner or friend, divorce or job loss. When we have loss in our lives, we will also experience grief. Emotional, physical and mentally reactions to grief are unique to each person, however commonly reactions include:
Emotional: anger, guilt, relief, deep sadness, emptiness, longing for the person/pet lost and fear.
Physical/Behavioural: lack of sleep/too much sleep, eating issues, numbness, hyper-activity, increase heart rate, feeling disoriented, feeling drained, nightmares
Mentally: forgetful, "foggy", disoriented, numbness, confusion, unable to concentrate
Spiritually: feeling a loss of belief or faith
Grief is not a process with a distinct end. Over time, after the loss, people typically see a decrease in the rawness of emotional, psychological, mental reactions. For example they can move from a place of crying and feeling deep sadness when discussing the person who died to being able to see reminders of the person and have a possible teary moment, but not one which makes them feel depilated or lost. The goal of grief therapy is not to end grief, but to less the intensity of the feeling and explore the impacts of the lost to facilitated the integration of grief.
There is no one way to grieve, and not everyone will need support after a significant loss. Others will find it helpful to talk about their feelings with someone, and to create a path for healing which can include: becoming comfortable with experiencing and honouring intense emotions, developing self-compassion and self care, and unpacking the complexities of the relationships with a person they have lost.
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