Grief is the normal response of sorrow, emotion, and confusion that comes from losing someone or something important to you. It is a natural part of life. Grief is a typical reaction to death, divorce, a move away from family or friends, or loss of health due to illness.

What you might experience

Just after the loss, you may feel empty and numb, as if you are in shock. You may notice physical changes such as trembling, nausea, trouble breathing, muscle weakness, dry mouth, or trouble sleeping and eating.

You may become angry – at a situation, a particular person, or just angry in general. Almost everyone in grief experiences guilt. Guilt is often expressed as “I could have, I should have, and I wish I would have” statements.

People in grief may have strange dreams or nightmares, be absent-minded, withdraw socially, or lack the desire to return to work or school. While these feelings and behaviors are normal during grief, they will pass.

How long will it last?

Grief lasts as long as it takes for you to accept and learn to live with your loss. For some people, it lasts for a few months. For others, grieving may take years.

The length of time spent grieving is different for each person. There are many reasons for the differences, including personality, health, coping style, culture, family background, and life experiences. The time spent grieving also depends on your relationship with the person lost and how prepared you were for the loss.

The grieving process

Every person who experiences a death or other loss must complete a four-step grieving process:

  1. Accept the loss
  2. Work through and feel the physical and emotional pain of grief
  3. Adjust to living in a world without the person or item lost
  4. Move on with life.

If the feelings of grief do not go away, ask for help.

*Taken from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)