Grief is a natural reaction to a death. The thoughts and feelings we have about the death is part of our grief journey. Grief has physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual components.

Common emotions of grief include: intense sadness, frustration, longing and loneliness, sorrow, guilt, anger and in some instances, relief. The emotions of grief can cross a broad spectrum, some of the emotions can seem contradictory which can generate even more confusion.

Grief also has the potential to have tremendous physical manifestations such as feelings of emptiness, shortness of breath, weakness, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns often resulting in trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking early, agitation, tightening of the throat, etc. Further there will likely be an impact on the energy level; for some they might become lethargic, while others seem almost hyperactive. Children tend to have an increase in energy.

Some of the behaviours of grief might include crying, irritability, hostility, withdrawal from social activity. The bereaved may talk about nothing but the deceased or not talk about the deceased at all.

On a spiritual level, bereavement tends to cause a re-evaluation of spiritual beliefs as people try to make sense of their loss. For some this means turning towards their belief system for others it may initiate a process of turning away.

 Passages through Grief

There is no destination, no arrival, no ending place in the journey of grief. There is no road map to follow, no formula, and no way to hurry the journey or bypass the pain. There are passages to live through, not stages that we move past in a lockstep, hierarchical order. To force ourselves or our children into a linear grieving “process,” evaluating where we are on the ladder of grief, is a vain attempt to control and manipulate a “journey of the heart.” This journey cannot be controlled, it can only be lived through by each of us in our own time and in our own way.          

Barbara Coloroso                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Parenting through Crisis