Grief: A Natural Response to Loss
Grief is a difficult concept to truly understand, because it is unique to the person and the loss they’ve suffered. Comprehending loss is a good place to start.
Dictionary.com describes loss as “the state of being deprived of or of being without something that one has had” (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/loss). Loss can be of a loved one, a job, a relationship, a belonging, a capability, etc. Basically, you had something and now you don’t, and the circumstances of which the loss has occurred can vary.
So then grief, according to the Mayo Clinic, is “the natural reaction to loss” (https://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-visitor-guide/support-groups/what-is-grief). But we know grief is so much more than that. Grief is the price we pay for loving someone. It is the storm of emotions we cannot avoid when someone leaves too soon. It is natural, and like most natural things, it is inevitable.
Psychologically, grief can manifest through a broad array of emotions—fear, anxiety, sadness, despair, anger, irritation, longing, depression, confusion, numbness, detachment, and guilt are just a few. And it’s very normal to experience several of these emotions in a day, in an hour even. Sometimes they appear in different stages, and other times they may come and go in surges. Or, the feelings could last for days to even months without relief.
Physically, grief can affect digestion, concentration, sleep, appetite, energy, and immune strength (to name a few). Some might experience more physical side effects than others, or in different degrees of severity. These issues paired with the emotional hardships may put strain on relationships and friendships, and instigate withdrawal from society. It can be very difficult to find joy or pleasure in life when one is working through grief—and it really is hard work.
But remember that grief is natural. It is a natural response to loss, the way darkness ensues when the sun goes down. We can always rely on the fact that daylight will come again, though. Grief does not have to last forever, but it does need to be felt.