Allow for grief

No emotion is wrong during this process. Everyone grieves in their own unique way; there's no need to self-judge.

Those who experience loss may question the length of their personal process, but there is no easy answer: everyone grieves at their own pace.

The immediate pain may gradually subside over the weeks and months after the death, but it's also normal for the impact of the loss to be felt for many years.

Regardless of its length of impact, it's important to ensure that the death does not get in the way of everyday life in the long term.

If returning to a normal routine, or experiencing joy or pleasure becomes a challenge, then consider seeking professional support.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgRead More Review more information in the Support Mental Health section of the Guide.

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Immediate and long term expressions of grief can be different, but they can also mirror one another in a few days. Initial reactions to a loss may be both physical and psychological. There is no one way to grieve. There are several different kinds of grief, all of which are normal to experience after losing a loved one.

Some of the most common signs of grief include:

  • Shock
  • Confusion
  • Disbelief
  • Denial
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Anger or general irritability
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Numbness

Some of the most common types of grief include:

  • Anticipatory grief, in which the death of the person might have been expected. Even when this is the case, it’s normal to experience typical feelings of sadness, anger, and other emotions associated with the grief process. Anticipatory grief might begin before the loss of the person, such as when that individual was diagnosed with a terminal illness. For family members or friends coming to terms with this loss, grieving begins when they recognize the situation for what it is and some might try to “brace” themselves for the loss.
  • Delayed grief, in which a person might act much as if the death has not happened. In some cases, this is how the person is processing the loss, moving through the phase of denial in the grief process. For others, the shock of the loss might not have hit them yet, and their grief may transform over time. Anyone experiencing delayed grief might wonder, “Why am I not crying?” or “Why hasn’t this hit me yet?”
  • Chronic grief, in which the person’s grief symptoms do not get better over time. These severe symptoms might impede their ability to live their daily life.
  • Distorted grief, in which someone’s reactions might be completely opposite of what is expected. These are atypical and extreme reactions to a loss, including self-destructive behavior. These often show up as hostility towards others and anger.
  • Traumatic grief, which often applies in circumstances where the loved one’s passing was violent.
  • Survivor’s guilt grief, in which a person might feel shame around being alive while their loved one has passed.
  • Masked grief, in which the person might return to their daily life and seemingly usual functioning, but also adopts destructive behaviors to cope with their feelings, like alcohol or drug abuse.


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