Most of the time, the words “grief” and “loss” are associated with the passing of a loved one, but you have likely experienced much more loss in your life than you realize. The feelings of grief can come from any event associated with a sense of loss, from the loss of a job to the loss of good health to the loss of a friendship to the loss of an unrealized goal or dream.
After a loss of any kind, it is normal to experience a grieving process, whether it lasts for hours, days, weeks, months, or years. It is also important to keep in mind that grief can be triggered by memories or significant passages of time, so you should not be alarmed if you feel sad, have difficulty sleeping or eating, or experience an overwhelming sense of loss occasionally for months or years.
The first type of loss that comes to mind is the death of a loved one because it is the most tangible and often the most impactful on those left behind. Depending on the situation, the depth of the grief experienced can vary by person. Unexpected deaths certainly involve shock as well as deep sorrow and the feeling that they were taken away too soon, without being able to accomplish everything they wanted to or even say goodbye. On the other hand, when an elderly relative passes away after a long battle with an illness, loved ones experience sadness but could also feel relief that they are no longer suffering and gratitude for all that they were able to do and all the people they were able to impact during their full life.
One of the most common types of loss is a breakup or divorce. This situation is complicated because you abruptly continue on with your life without your most significant companion while knowing that they are also continuing on with their own life elsewhere. This loss of relationship can be even more difficult if there are children involved or you will continue seeing that person at work or school. It is appropriate to grieve for what has been lost, but the healthiest thing you can do is let the grief run its course and then pick yourself back up and move on to the next thing in your life, perhaps making plans for an event to look forward to.
In the case of a lost opportunity such as not receiving that promotion or being laid off or not being accepted to that program, the disappointment can seem a bit less tangible, but the sense of loss can be powerful nonetheless. There are so many unknowns that you may feel will never be resolved and you could have to go back to the drawing board on the plans for your future. An unfortunate medical diagnosis can lead to these same types of feelings.
If you have experienced a loss of some kind and you have been ashamed of the feelings of grief for any reason, give yourself permission to be upset for a time. Be honest with those around you about what is going on and ask for their support. And if you feel that your feelings of loss and grief persist longer than they should or you start to wonder if you may be depressed, reach out to a therapist in your area who can help you.
For more information about the difference between grief and depression, read our article on that subject here:
You know yourself best, so if you are wondering if you should seek professional help, you probably should. It is generally a good idea to reach out to a therapist or counselor if your feelings are overwhelming and are keeping you from normal function in your daily life. If you start to experience insomnia or excessive sleeping, unexplained weight loss or weight gain, unbearable emotions, or thoughts of self-harm, talk to someone close to you to see if they have noticed any drastic changes in you and get in touch with a professional. They are experienced in helping people dealing with the difficult emotions of grief and loss as well as the depression or anxiety that can be triggered by a loss. You do not have to continue feeling this way and there are people who want to help you get back to feeling like yourself.
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