Grief and Loss

Grief is the normal emotional and physical response we have when we experience a loss. Loss can mean more than a death; certainly, we grieve the death of a loved one, but we might also grieve as the result of a chronic illness, job change, marriage break-up or even retirement. Each time there is a change in our lives, we must make a trade, leaving certain things behind.

Change can be painful, overwhelming and even frightening. We all experience different kinds and levels of grief. Many people worry about whether they are grieving the “right” way and wonder if their feelings are normal. It’s important to remember that grief comes in many forms and that there is no “right” way to grieve.

Symptoms of Grief

Each person’s loss is unique. However, we do share many common feelings and ways of dealing with loss. Someone going through the grieving process may experience some of these symptoms:


  • Headaches
  • Crying
  • Fatigue
  • Absent-mindedness
  • Tightness in the throat
  • Sighing
  • Heaviness in the chest
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Increased sensory awareness
  • Changes in appetite


  • Numbness, shock
  • Feelings of being lost
  • Intense sadness
  • Anger
  • Yearning 
  • Bitterness


  • Feelings of closeness to God
  • Searching for meaning
  • Anger at God
  • Increase of fear 
  • Strengthening of Faith
  • Fostering of personal growth
  • Questioning one's faith
  • Redefining relationship with God

How Can I Provide Support for Someone Grieving?

There are practical things you can do to assist: 

  • Send cards or flowers
  • Prepare food, provide childcare
  • Mow the lawn, assist with housework, provide transportation

Other ideas:

  • Stay connected. Sometimes, the grieving person does not want to talk or listen, nor do they want you to talk or listen. They simply want you to be there for them.
  • Allow the individual grieving the full range of their emotions.
  • Be patient and understanding. Don’t claim to know how the other person is feeling. You don’t have answers.
  • Allow reminiscing, repeated story-telling.
  • Acknowledge special dates, events, holidays.