Grief is defined as the intense sorrow and anguish experienced after a great personal loss. For most people, grief comes as the result of a tragic or traumatic moment in their lives when someone they love passes away. Death, in general, is one of the most common triggers for grief, but it’s not the only one. Sometimes a person’s mental health disorder is exasperated by grief that they didn’t realize they were carrying. People need to acknowledge their grief to begin the healing process. However, it is easier said than done, especially when grief is not often discussed or addressed in society.
Reasons Why Someone May Experience Grief
Grief is often explained as the feeling of love with no place to go. You had a lot of big emotions that you are used to feeling, but the person or experience where you used to put these emotions is now gone. Now, these emotions are trapped within yourself, which brings pain that is difficult to process.
Many people experience this pain after the death of a loved one. However, people may experience grief for many different reasons. A personal loss doesn’t just mean death. It can also mean having a chronic condition that prevents you from enjoying things that many people in our society do. A good example of this is someone finding out that they are sterile and thus cannot experience the process of procreating children.
Someone can also experience grief when they miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience or undergo a serious change in their lives. New parents often experience grief for the more carefree lives they must leave behind. Many people experience grief for lost childhoods due to abuse or parentification.
Grief, regardless of its source, is still a devastating thing to live through. It also cannot be compared among themselves. A person experiencing grief because they can no longer ride rollercoasters due to a bone condition is still experiencing grief. Someone mourning the loss of a parent or someone grieving how they were never allowed a childhood is also valid. A person mourning the death of their pet is still experiencing real pain and sorrow for their loss. It’s futile and unhelpful to compare the levels of grief other people may feel. What should be focused on is helping people learn how to cope with their grief healthily and helpfully and not on who is worse off.
How Grief Can Present Itself
Grief expresses itself varies from person to person and can range wildly in severity. However, there are a few common ways that grief can make itself apparent in those experiencing it. Perhaps the most common of these expressions of grief is when someone becomes trapped in circular thinking. This involves someone constantly thinking about their loss to the point where they ignore everything else.
Someone doing this may stop eating or sleeping. They may even withdraw completely from others because they are too focused on their thoughts. This can be dangerous, as this can severely impact someone’s physical health as well as their mental health. Most often, those who become trapped in this become depressed and have a difficult time breaking free. It takes therapy and strong intervention to help someone begin to think about themselves and their health again.
Someone may also become more anxious, afraid of losing more than what they have already lost. Those who have lost a parent may become frightened of losing the other. They can begin to hyper-focus on all the terrible things that could happen to them. This can result in harmful anxious behaviors, such as refusing to be separated from and attaching themselves to loved ones in an unhealthy way. This is often seen with parents who have lost a child. Said parents go on to become overprotective of their living children. Such behavior can prevent their children from living normal lives as their parents are too afraid to let them learn and grow on their own.
People experience more intense emotions while grieving. Many people feel confusion, pain, sorrow, anger, and fear. Sometimes a person may become obsessive about the lives they lived before their loss. Others may become afraid of their future. All of these are valid feelings to have and must be addressed to process their grief.
Sometimes the sorrow of grief can become too much, and someone may contemplate or consider suicide. It is important to watch those that are grieving for the common signs of suicidal ideation. If you or someone you love is having thoughts of or considering suicide, call 988 for the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.
What to Do When You Need Help
If you need help processing your grief, call your local mental health clinic right away to make an appointment with a therapist. A therapist is a trained mental health professional that can guide someone through their grief and help them healthily process their emotions. For those that experience loss, it’s always recommended to speak with a professional. Sometimes people just need a non-judgmental ear to listen to them to help them heal. They can help you notice if you are beginning to neglect yourself and can help you find the resources you need in your difficult time.
Support groups for those struggling with grief are common. If you would like to sign up, contact your local mental health clinic, hospital, or community center for more information. Sometimes they may have established groups that have been set up or may be in the process of finding enough members to officially make a group. Grief support groups can also be found online as a place for people to talk about their experiences and find solidarity in each other.
If you feel as though you need help, talk to someone you love and trust today.
Grief is the pain that we feel when experiencing a great personal loss. Mostly it comes from losing someone you love, but it can come from many different places. Losing out on important experiences or physical attributes can also instill a feeling of grief in people. It’s a difficult emotion for many people to process, so some people tend to bury it, which can cause serious health problems. At Acera Health in Costa Mesa, California, we can help you navigate through this challenging time and teach you how to deal with your grief in a healthy way. If you or someone you love is living with intense grief and is in need of help, call (949) 647-4090 today.
Melody is a highly skilled proactive clinical administrator, with more than 17 years of experience serving the community in the behavioral health field.
Her clinical management career started in 2011 as a compliance manager and program director. In 2018, she became an executive as chief clinical officer (CCO). She is a seasoned licensed marriage & family therapist.