Grief is an emotion that is not limited to death, but can be felt as a result of loss of any kind. Grief is the emotional experience of reacting to a loss of something that’s important to you, no matter how big or small it might be. It can feel stifling, huge, and completely overwhelming, sometimes striking with no warning.
During this pandemic, you may have experienced moments of grief, perhaps from the loss of regular friendships, cancelled events, broken relationships, unemployment or even grief from actual death. You may even have experienced a combination of grief triggers. How did you feel? How do you feel now?
Grief can feel like:
I can't breathe.
I feel so helpless.
Why is this happening?
Things have to change.
Everyone grieves differently, and it can't be rushed or forced. Some people express their emotions outwardly, while others turn inside themselves. How long grief lasts and how intense it is both depend on factors like your personality, the type of loss, whether it was expected or sudden, and the social support you have. For some people, grief can last weeks, while for others it might last years, and both can be healthy as long as you eventually learn to cope with your loss.
Many mental health professionals still look to the five stages of grief to explain how the grieving process can evolve over time. These include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In practice, this can involve everything from only being able to think of your loved one’s death, to numbness, to feeling like your life has lost all meaning. It’s crucial to understand that these stages aren’t neat, tidy, and sequential. Instead, they're more of a cycle, where you may experience one stage for a much longer period of time than the others or barely at all, and these feelings can also overlap.
You need to allow yourself time to grieve. Talking to people will help - the more you withdraw, the deeper the abyss of loneliness you’ll have to re emerge from. It’s important to remind yourself that the pain will pass and you will survive it. Say your peace.
Loss is part of life, and grieving is natural. If you feel you need additional support to help you through, we have a number of support organisations listed on our support page. You can also find support in our Better mental health audios, designed by mental health experts to help you make sense of difficult emotional times.