Grief, as with any emotional problem, comes with its own set of symptoms. However, these symptoms will vary from person to person depending on how they normally react and cope when faced with traumatic events. Whether you are feeling empty or you are having a difficult time getting through the day without crying, here are the common symptoms of grief that all people deal with.
Emotional Symptoms of Grief
- Emptiness- When you initially learn about the loss of a loved one, you may feel a degree of emotional emptiness or numbness. This is due to the fact that you are dealing with the shock of the news and your mind has not yet processed the information in a way that it can cope with yet. This feeling, however, typically wears off eventually and you will begin to experience the other symptoms on this list.
“Understandably, grief is complicated and we sometimes wonder if the pain will ever end. We go through a variety of emotional experiences such as anger, confusion, and sadness.” –Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP
- Sadness- Sadness is the most common symptom of grief. You should expect to feel sadness as a result of the loss of your loved one.
- Anger- You may feel angry at the world or at your loved one for the grief that you are experiencing. You shouldn’t feel bad about feeling this way as it is natural to be angry at something when your loved one passes. However, remember that this feeling will fade away as you go through the grief process and move onto other emotions.
- Fear- If you’ve lost a great many people in a short period of time, you may begin feeling scared or worried that something terrible will happen to you as well. This is natural as well and will fade over time. Try to find ways that you can alleviate this fear so that you will be able to keep it from preventing you from living life.
Physical Manifestations of Grief
“Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time.” –Kevin Stevenson, LMHC, MCAP
- Fatigue- Grief not only causes emotional problems but manifests itself physically as well. One of the most common physical symptoms of grief is fatigue. You may feel as though you are not able to gather the energy needed to basic tasks throughout your day. You may also begin sleeping more as a result of your loss. This type of symptom will fix itself over time.
- Unexplained aches and pains- If you’re grieving and you’re having a difficult time dealing with it, you most likely are dealing with this symptom. It is common for people dealing with physical pain when they are also feeling extreme emotional pain. These types of aches and pains include headaches, stomach aches, and back pain.
- Eating too much or eating too little- You may find after you’ve lost your loved one that you have absolutely no appetite at all or you may develop a voracious appetite. Either way, this is natural for those dealing with grief. You should keep both of these symptoms in check to prevent yourself from starving, overeating, or developing an eating disorder.
Changes That You Will Experience in Life
Grief has the ability to affect your body as well as your surroundings. Some external symptoms of grief include social changes and changes in faith. Through your grief, you will be able to determine who you truly want in your life and you will probably have moments where you will question your faith and the way that the world around you works. Expect these things to come into existence during the grieving process.
“There’s no one answer about what to do when you miss someone—it really depends on the situation.” –Gregory Kushnick, PsyD.
Most importantly, if any of the symptoms above stick around for months and you feel that you have not moved forward in your grief process, seek help as you may have developed a mental illness as a result of your grief.