Loss is difficult. Our family lost a very special person at the end of January. Father, brother, husband, friend. The extended family came together and celebrated his life, and that was very special. Then we all scattered to the four winds to grieve separately.

We are all aware that life does not go on forever. People follow different paths. Living is a process. We are born. We grow to maturity. Along the way we become sick, but recover. We are injured, but the bones heal. Sometimes our emotions are injured and we must look deep inside to find the healing spirit to go on. At some point our body can take no more. Our spirit grows tired. We die. Much has been written about dying. Much has been written about living. They are on the same continuum. The circle of life. Native people all over the globe approach living and dying in different ways. The one common theme is that dying is part of living and the “ending” of a person in the family, clan, or tribe with some respectful ritual. In the west we have memorials, celebrations of life, funerals…all depending on the wishes of the family that is left and the wishes of the departed.

Then we part and go home to grieve.

Grief can not be hurried. It takes time, usually a year or more. It can be very painful.

We all experience grief in stages.

First there is SHOCK.  Sometimes no tears will come.  Even denial.  Some can express their emotions immediately.

EMOTIONAL RELEASE.  Eventually a person begins to feel and to hurt.  Shared feelings bring closeness to all involved.

PREOCCUPATION WITH THE DECEASED.   Despite efforts to think of other things, a grieving person may find it difficult to stop thinking about the deceased person.  This is not unusual.  It takes time to heal.


  • Sleeplessness
  • Tightness in the throat
  • A choking feeling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Deep sighing
  • An empty hollow feeling in the stomach
  • Lack of strength.  “Everything I lift seems heavy”
  • Digestive symptoms and poor appetite
  • A slight sense of unreality
  • Feelings of emotional distance from people
  • Sometimes there are feelings of panic

HOSTILE REACTIONS. You may find yourself responding with anger to situations that previously would not have bothered you at all.  Anger and hostility are normal.  Do not suppress the anger.  However, it is important that you understand and direct your anger toward the loss of the person you loved.

GUILT.  There is almost always some sense of guilt in grief.  The bereaved, or the ones left think of the many things they felt they could have done, but didn’t.  They accuse themselves of negligence.  Guilt is normal and should pass with time.

DEPRESSION.  Many people feel despair, loneliness and hopelessness.  These feelings may be even more intense for those living alone or who have little family.  Again, these feelings are normal and should pass with time.

WITHDRAWAL.  The grieving person often withdraws from social relationships.  Daily routines are disrupted.  Life seems like a dream.  This will take some effort to overcome, but the rewards are worthwhile.

RESOLUTION AND READJUSTMENT.  This come gradually.  Memories are still there.  Love is still there.  You begin to heal.  You begin to get on with life.  By experiencing deep emotion and accepting it, you will grow in understanding and wisdom.

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About alonegwen

Retired educator interested in living life fully. Will write about aging wisely, good reads, food, travel, dance reviews, and other items as they interest me.
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4 Responses to Grief

  1. Kathy says:

    Good expression of what you are enduring right now. I read the entire piece and realized how many times I have experienced prolonged grief. Loss does take a toll on our spirit and we have to both allow grieving and work to stay afloat for the others who love us.

  2. Shannon says:

    Thank you, Mom. Each day feels different and I definitely see that stages that I am going through. Grieving is such a personal experience. I know that it is different for everyone but we must take comfort in those we love. It is exhausting so please take care of yourself! We love you.

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