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Grief and Loss

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Common reactions to grief and loss

Grief can be viewed as the process of stitching together the reality of ‘what was’ with the reality of ‘what is’. There are things you can do to help you move through this process.

Everyone experiences grief in a different way and it’s important to remember that when you are grieving, whatever you are feeling is normal and okay – even if they feel scary or overwhelming or strange.

Grief is a sad but normal part of living.


For you, grief might feel like:

  • A rollercoaster of ups and downs
  • A whirlpool of different emotions spinning through you
  • Emptiness, numbness and flatness

Common reactions to loss include…

  • Shock
  • Numbness
  • Feeling sick
  • Disbelief – finding it hard to accept what has happened
  • Empty
  • Feeling nothing
  • Anger and resentment
  • Relief
  • Sadness, misery, and hopelessness
  • Guilt
  • Regret
  • Anxiety, restlessness and irritability
  • Panic
  • Exhaustion
  • Disorganisation
  • Isolation
  • Being in a dream-like state
  • Feeling lost
  • Feeling confused
  • Feeling frightened
  • Having unusual reactions, like having a laughing fit or feeling really hyper
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Having weird sleeping or eating patterns
  • Thinking constantly about the loss
  • Imagining how things would be if the loss hadn’t happened
  • Having weird dreams or nightmares

Getting through grief

Give yourself chill-out time. If you are someone who deals with stress and problems by getting as busy as possible, drinking and partying a lot, being really social and using heaps of distractions to try forget how you are feeling, then this tip is especially for you. Give yourself a chunk of time to just chill on your own. You may want to go for a walk, sit by a beach, river or lake, listen to music in your room, read, have a cry, write or do something creative. In this time, try to be “unplugged” too so you can truly relax. That means turning off your phone and not getting online. Check out our stress page for some chill out strategies that can help.

Stay in touch. If you are someone who deals with stress and problems by withdrawing, not going out, not seeing friends and wanting to just stay in bed and cry, this tip is especially for you. It’s important to keep seeing your mates and hanging out. Even if you may not feel like it at first, chances are that after an hour of hanging out, you might feel happy you did it.

Go back to basics. Focus on getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and doing some exercise. Focus on getting a stable routine in place. Try getting up at the same time every day, having regular meal times, and (if you don’t have school, study or work) planning some activities to do – even if they are just activities to do at home – nothing like a good spring clean for a new start!

Remember the good times. Have photographs around you, items of their, chats with others, or even write your memories down in a memory book.

Take time out to grieve. Allow yourself everyday a bit of time to be alone in a safe space where you can express your grief. Listen to music, draw, write a letter to the person, write in a diary about how you’re feeling, or just think about stuff. Afterwards, move out of that space, maybe have a shower or make something to eat and do something else.

Go at your own pace. There is no “right time” to get over a loss

Talk about it. Talking, crying and sometimes even laughing with someone can really help. This is important as grief is an ongoing process that can take a while to get through.

Stay healthy. Even though drugs and alcohol might seem like a way to numb your feelings or get on a happier buzz, grief and substances do not mix well! Chances are you’ll feel pretty bad and even worse the next day.

Ever heard the phrase “time is a healer”? Grieving takes time, but things do get a bit easier as time passes. As time passes, if you are finding it really, really hard to function or feel anything good, it may be worth having a chat to a professional to help you manage your grief and make things easier. If lots of your friends or family are also grieving, it can be good to have your own space to talk without worrying about having to support them. Check out our “getting help” section.


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