Grief and Loss

Bereavement, Grief, Loss and Adjustment

Grief and loss are not necessary always about having lost a loved one. It can also be about significant losses of self as often experienced by cancer patients with operations involving mastectomies for breast cancer patients or even for colorectal patients in the form of stoma bags. This can impact all sorts of issues, including body image, relationships, self-esteem/confidence, to name just a few. Grief can, therefore, be triggered on many levels and can cause a range of emotional struggles. There’s no right or wrong way to feel.

As well as grief from the loss of a loved one, there are other types of losses, such as the end of a relationship or losing a job or home.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Shock and numbness – often experienced as “being in a daze”, ‘brain fog’
  • Overwhelming emotions, including sadness/depression and being tearful
  • Fatigue/tiredness or exhaustion
  • Anger – towards the person you have lost or even at self and the world for the ‘unjustness’
  • Guilt – about feeling angry about something you said or did not say, or not being able to stop your loved one from dying

These feelings may not always be there, and powerful feelings may appear unexpectedly.

It is not always easy to recognise when bereavement, grief or loss are the reason why you are acting or feeling differently. Others may notice the change more than you may. It may help to think with someone external to your existing support system (family/friends) so that there is an opportunity to voice your feelings and make sense of events, which will enable you to manage your feelings and emotions. It is difficult when the ethos with bereavement and grief is to ‘move on’. I would urge against this as loved ones cannot be wiped from memory, and there are always triggers with our experiences, so it is about how we learn to function alongside all the feelings.

Man sat at a table with his head in his hands

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