heartsick

Losing someone or something you love is very painful. After a significant loss, you may experience all kinds of difficult and surprising emotions, such as shock, anger, and guilt. Sometimes it may feel like the sadness will never let up. While these feelings can be frightening and overwhelming, they are normal reactions to loss. Accepting them as part of the grieving process and allowing yourself to feel what you feel is necessary for healing.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve — but there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. You can get through it! Grief that is expressed and experienced has a potential for healing that eventually can strengthen and enrich life.

Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one – and this type of loss does often cause the most intense grief. But any loss can cause grief, including:

  • A relationship breakup
  • Loss of health
  • Losing a job
  • Loss of financial stability
  • A miscarriage
  • Death of a loved one,especially a child 
  • Death of a pet
  • Loss of a cherished dream
  • A loved one’s serious illness
  • Loss of a friendship
  • Loss of safety after a trauma
 
The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief. However, even subtle losses can lead to grief. For example, you might experience grief after moving away from home, graduating from college, changing jobs, selling your family home, or retiring from a career you loved.

Everyone grieves differently

Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried – and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.

Myths and Facts About Grief

MYTH: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.

Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.

MYTH: It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.

Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.

MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.

Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.

MYTH: Grief should last about a year.

Fact: There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving. How long it takes can differ from person to person.

Some of the stages of grief:

  • Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”

  • Anger:Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”

  • Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”

  • Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”

  • Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. However, not everyone who is grieving goes through all of these stages – and that’s okay. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to go through each stage in order to heal. In fact, some people resolve their grief without going through any of these stages. And if you do go through these stages of grief, you probably won’t experience them in a neat, sequential order, so don’t worry about what you “should” be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in.  Our grieving is as individual as our lives.

 

Grief can be a roller coaster

Instead of a series of stages, we might also think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning, the lows may be deeper and longer. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss. Even years after a loss, especially at special events such as a family wedding or the birth of a child, we may still experience a strong sense of grief.

Common symptoms of grief

While loss affects people in different ways, many people experience the following symptoms when they’re grieving. Just remember that almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal – including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious beliefs.

  • Shock and disbelief – Right after a loss, it can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they’re gone.

  • Sadness – Profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.

  • Guilt – You may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. You may also feel guilty about certain feelings (e.g. feeling relieved when the person died after a long, difficult illness). After a death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing more you could have done.

  • Anger – Even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry at yourself, God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.

  • Fear – A significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.

  • Physical symptoms – We often think of grief as a strictly emotional process, but grief often involves physical problems, including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.

Coping with grief and loss -

The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of other people. Even if you aren’t comfortable talking about your feelings under normal circumstances, it’s important to express them when you’re grieving. Sharing your loss makes the burden of grief easier to carry. Wherever the support comes from, accept it and do not grieve alone. Connecting to others will help you heal.

Finding support after a loss

  • Turn to friends and family members – Now is the time to lean on the people who care about you, even if you take pride in being strong and self-sufficient. Draw loved ones close, rather than avoiding them, and accept the assistance that’s offered. Oftentimes, people want to help but don’t know how, so tell them what you need – whether it’s a shoulder to cry on or help with funeral arrangements.

  • Draw comfort from your faith – If you follow a religious tradition, embrace the comfort its mourning rituals can provide. Spiritual activities that are meaningful to you – such as praying, meditating, or going to church – can offer solace. If you’re questioning your faith in the wake of the loss, talk to a clergy member or others in your religious community.

  • Join a support group – Grief can feel very lonely, even when you have loved ones around. Sharing your sorrow with others who have experienced similar losses can help. To find a bereavement support group in your area, contact local hospitals, hospices, funeral homes, and counseling centers.

  • Talk to a therapist or grief counselor – If your grief feels like too much to bear, call a mental health professional with experience in grief counseling. An experienced therapist can help you work through intense emotions and overcome obstacles to your grieving.

How to support a grieving person

If someone you care about has suffered a loss, you can help them heal by asking about their feelings, spending time just being with them, and listening when they want to talk. A grieving person needs to tell their story over and over. This is very normal. Please be patient with them and listen as many times as they need to tell it.

Coping with grief and loss by taking care of yourself -

When you’re grieving, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself. The stress of a major loss can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time.

  • Face your feelings. You can try to suppress your grief, but you can’t avoid it forever. In order to heal, you have to acknowledge the pain. Trying to avoid feelings of sadness and loss only prolongs the grieving process. Unresolved grief can also lead to complications such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and health problems.

  • Express your feelings in a tangible or creative way. Write about your loss in a journal. If you’ve lost a loved one, write a letter saying the things you never got to say; make a scrapbook or photo album celebrating the person’s life; or get involved in a cause or organization that was important to him or her.

  • Look after your physical health. The mind and body are connected. When you feel good physically, you’ll also feel better emotionally. Combat stress and fatigue by getting enough sleep, eating right, and exercising.

  • Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to yell at the heavens, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.

  • Plan ahead for grief “triggers.” Anniversaries, holidays, and milestones can reawaken memories and feelings. Be prepared for an emotional wallop, and know that it’s completely normal. If you’re sharing a holiday or lifecycle event with other relatives, talk to them ahead of time about their expectations and agree on strategies to honor the person you loved.

The sadness of losing someone you love never goes away completely.

The difference between grief and depression

Distinguishing between grief and clinical depression isn’t always easy, since they share many symptoms. However, there are ways to tell the difference. Remember, grief can be a roller coaster. It involves a wide variety of emotions and a mix of good and bad days. Even when you’re in the middle of the grieving process, you will have moments of pleasure or happiness. With depression, on the other hand, the feelings of emptiness and despair are constant.

Can antidepressants help grief?

As a general rule, normal grief does not warrant the use of antidepressants. While medication may relieve some of the symptoms of grief, it cannot treat the cause, which is the loss itself. Furthermore, by numbing the pain that must be worked through eventually, antidepressants delay the mourning process.

Medications that aid in sleep for the betterment of your health and coping mechanisms may be of some help since allowing sleep will help you to better cope and will keep your immune system healthy.
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Patty

I'm glad you wrote this. I just lost my beautiful horse Lexie, on October 31st 2011. And my emotions are all over the place. I feel sad then angry then numb, then I cry again. I feel like, I'm in shock, or a bad dream, and this will just go away, but it isn't.:(

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heartsick
Patty I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious Lexie.
It has only been a few days and grief is awful - especially the raw searing pain of new grief.
I am divorced now.
When I was married I buried my son.
At that time I became a Certified Grief Counselor.
I used the same graveside service for my
Bear as I used for my son.
LOVE IS LOVE and Grief is Grief.
Grief makes you feel as your whole world blew up and all of the pieces landed in different places than they used to be - like a Picasso painting.
It takes quite a long time to learn to navigate this new life - like walking around in a strange room in the dark.
We ALL understand here.
Please keep coming and tell us more about Lexie.
It does get a bit easier in time - not better but eaiser.
There will ALWAYS be a BEAR shaped hole inside of me.
However I do get through the days now without as many tears as the beginning when I literally forgot to breathe and had to remind myself.
My Thoughts are with You.
Susan
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Patty

Sue, I feel so bad. I miss her, and I can't hardly eat or concentrate on anything. Tomorrow will only be one week, and I keep going over and over in my mind, what did I miss, that could have prevented the colic? I don't feel like doing much of anything. I feel like the world has moved on without me. I have bad dreams. I'm miserable.

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Patty


LEXIE
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heartsick
Dear Patty,
Lexie is so beautiful. She is such a gorgeous girl.
It is so very normal to feel the way you do and to go over and over everything. We seem to always want to blame ourselves for things we could not have possibly known or done anything about. All of us feel as if our hearts have been ripped out through our eyeballs - the pain of grief is awful.
Please keep coming back here to write about Lexie. It is normal in the first raw searing pain of new grief to have your emotions all over the place and not be able to focus on anything. You don't have to eat if you can't but please make sure you take in non-acloholic and non-caffeine fluids so you don't dehydtrate. Grief is not something that we get over - it is something that -slowly- over time - we incorporate into our lives and learn to live with it until it becomes a part of our bones and breath. The instense pain you are in now will ease a bit in time - it gets easier -not quite better - but it does get easier with time. I will ALWAYS be here for you.
We ALL understand.
Please keep coming and writing about Lexie.
Tell us more about the two of you and your lives together.
My Love to You,
Susan
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mydogisboss
Patty, I truly empathize with what you are going through. I lost my English Mastiff on 10/10/11 and I am still in the grips of grief. I have difficulty sleeping, eating, and my overall functioning is impacted. I cried all day today as it has been exactly one month since I lost my most beloved shadow. I hope that you and I can begin to heal in the near future. I really want to be in a state where I can smile when I think about Maximus. I guess our grief must take its course.
Thinking of you
Suzanne
Maximus' Mom
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heartsick
Suzanne - I am so very sorry for the loss of your Maximus. Four weeks is still so new when it comes to grief. It takes awhile to incorporate grief into one's life and learn to live with it until it becomes a part of you like your bones and your breath. It does get easier in time - not better - but easier.
Please come back and tell us about Maximus and your life together.
You can post pictures when you are ready to.
I am Thinking of You.
Susan(heartsick)
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kathib

Oh wow, this helped me.    I've been so depressed since I lost my golden last week, but I do have brief times when I get pleasure from my kittes, or when I'm out with my husband, etc.    So I know now it's not really clinical depression, because I was getting worried about it.   Thank you

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heartsick
Kathib,
I am so glad I was able to put your mind at rest on one thing anyway.
That's why I posted this.
Anti-Depressants do not work on grief depression as there is no chemical imbalance just normal grief.
I know how you are feeling and with time it will get a bit easier- not better - but easier.
You are in My Thoughts,
Susan
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Patty

mydogisboss wrote:
Patty, I truly empathize with what you are going through. I lost my English Mastiff on 10/10/11 and I am still in the grips of grief. I have difficulty sleeping, eating, and my overall functioning is impacted. I cried all day today as it has been exactly one month since I lost my most beloved shadow. I hope that you and I can begin to heal in the near future. I really want to be in a state where I can smile when I think about Maximus. I guess our grief must take its course.
Thinking of you
Suzanne

I thought I was doing okay, now all of a sudden I can't eat, sleep, and I feel guilty, like I should have been able to save her. I feel horrible. I just want it to all go away. I keep thinking she is going to come back, or I'm going to wake up, and it was just a really awful nightmare. I'm tired of people asking how I am? I hate this. She's gone, and I can't do anything about it.  She was only 19, that is not old for a horse. Why? Why? Why?

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heartsick

Patty.

Everything- every single thing you are feeling is a normal part fo new grief. The searing raw pain of new grief is awful. It throws every human emotion at you all at once. One moment you are all right and the next you are not. It makes you feel like you are in a hurricane and when you land everything is in a different place than it was and we all have to learn to navigate this new land we live in now where NOTHING is the same. Spending time asking "What if?" and "Why Me?" takes away from the time you can live in the LOVE that is between the two of you. There are no answers to why. Believe me I went on down that path for awhile when my son died and then I realized that when we LOVE someone as much as we ALL LOVE our babies - LOVE is the most important thing. We do not stop loving someone just because they have died.

LOVE NEVER DIES. I talk to Bear's picture every day. I know he LOVES me as I LOVE him. I am grateful for every second we had together. I buried more than one human child. One of my sons died in my arms and I will forever be grateful for the time I had with him - however short. My other son died in the NICU and I was not there at that precise moment because I was fighting for my own life- it doesn't matter what we are doing - as their Mommies we are supposed to make everything better and when we can't the guilt is overwhelming in the beginning. You didn't do anything wrong. You KNOW Lexie LOVES you as you LOVE her. It just hurts so much that if we beat ourselves up and blame ourselves it takes the pain off of the loss and misplaces it by putting it on us.

Lexie was very young for a horse or a human or a parrot but there is no way to figure out the reason that she was called away to the Bridge. Maybe they needed a beautiful sweet and nurturing horse for a foal who arrived all alone and scared? We won't know until we get there. I believe with my whole heart that Bear is with my children and my Grandmother. And my Grandmother is mothering everyone within reach as that is what she always did. She was one of the most intelligent women I have ever met and one of the most giving and kind and loving. If she meets your furbaby through my Bear be assured she will LOVE her dearly. My Grandmother is who I hope to be.

Patty- Please know that Lexie KNOWS she is very much wrapped in LOVE.

LOVE NEVER DIES and LOVE is the most important thing there is.

Please keep coming back and writing.

I care so much about you.

I am so very sorry that you lost Lexie so young.

Tomorrow -actually today already - is 12 weeks since my

little 27 month old Nori died and we are not even sure why-

her vet thinks it was a tumor and so of course I blame myself for not noticing that something was not right long before I did. Poor little Nori appeared fine and then I noticed she wasn't and within 4 hours she went from fine to dead. I came home blaming myself and I took everything out of the hutch she and Harry shared lookinf for anything she may have swallowed that could cause a blockage but there was not anything. There are some days I am still convinced I should have noticed something earlier so they could have done surgery - even if it was a tumor and then I sort of mentally smack myself because if I eat myself up over this who will care for everyone else? I would never hurt any one of my babies and YOU would have moved heaven and earth to get the very best care to Lexie. We as the humans we sometimes cannot accept that we just don't have the answers and it hurts. We like closure and all the answers to have endings - sometimes we keep pecking at ourselves until we have pecked a hole straight through.

Please KNOW that Lexie can feel your LOVE ALWAYS.

My Love to You My Friend.

Susan

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Rachel

I feel for all of you. The pain must be awful. I'm not there yet, but it will be soon. I'm grieving before she's gone. I know it will get better, but right now, just feels like the worst pain.

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heartsick
There is no way to prepare yourself for the depth of the pain and loss and grief that hits you right in the core of your being. Please make sure to come back here to talk to us.
We will ALL be here for you.
We ALL understand this most awful of losses.
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Rachel

Forgive my ignorance, but what does "bump" mean?

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