What are the symptoms of grief?
Each person’s grieving process is different, but many of them present similar symptoms. These symptoms may include:
- Constant thoughts of the loss
- Fluctuation in normal appetite
- Change in sleep schedule
- Physical ailments
- Social challenges
As you can see, the symptoms of grief may either be mental/emotional or physical in nature. Understanding the source of your pain and how to best manage your grief will gradually help reduce symptoms.
What are the stages of grief?
During the grieving process, you may notice different phases of coping. Each one of these stages guides you on the path to recovery. Progress may not always be direct or linear, however. You may skip certain steps altogether or jump around from phase to phase. Or you may remain at one phase for several months on end. Grief can also return when you experience certain triggers.
There are several models for the grieving process, with the most popular five-step model being developed by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book, “On Death and Dying.”
Although the traditional stages of grief are not considered an ideal way to depict the grieving process anymore, they can be helpful as a general outline of what to expect:
- Denial is a defense mechanism that allows the individual to temporarily put off what may otherwise be extreme emotion. Denial can manifest as shock or numbness.
- Anger is experienced when you realize the full impact of your loss. You may begin to feel frustrated before the feelings progress to full anger. These feelings can be directed at anyone or anything, even toward your lost loved one.
- Bargaining is the process by which you begin to regret your actions toward the situation. You wonder what you could have done to prevent it and may start to torment yourself with “what-ifs.”
- Depression occurs when you finally understand the full impact of your loss. You may experience sadness as you understand the effect of loss on your life. You may also endure sleep problems, a loss in appetite, loneliness, and similar feelings of depression.
- Acceptance is the final stage, in which you’ve accepted the reality of your loss. You may still feel sad or be triggered by things like anniversaries, but you are able to move on with your life and accept that your loss cannot be reversed.