Grief Symptoms, Causes & Types

Grief Symptoms, Causes & Types


If you notice a few grief symptoms, it probably means that you’ve lost someone or something very valuable in your life recently. Grief refers to learning to live with loss. Besides losing someone close to you, losing a house, divorce, and death are all significant life events that also cause grief. 

As much as it’s true that every person experiences sorrow differently, there are certain typical reactions that you may find helpful to identify if you’ve experienced a loss. Patience is crucial when navigating this challenging period, whether you’re grieving over a loved one or providing assistance.


What Is Grief?

Regardless of whether a person’s grief comes from the death of a loved one or from receiving a terminal diagnosis, it is a powerful and often overwhelming emotion. You might feel numb and disconnected from daily life as a result of the loss, which will make it challenging for you to carry out your regular tasks.

That said, it’s important to be aware of the fact that grief is completely normal and expected on such occasions. After all, grief is a normal response to loss. Bereavement is a shared and individual experience. The type of loss has an impact on how each person grieves. Common examples of events that cause grief are losing a loved one, ending a significant relationship, losing a job, suffering a theft, or losing mobility due to an accident or an unfortunate event. 

Other grieving examples include the loss of: 

  • A home or community
  • Financial stability
  • A goal
  • Youth
  • Fertility


If you’re experiencing grief symptoms, you can expect different stages of mourning. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t and probably won’t be able to impact your grieving process. There are many healthy ways to deal with your grief, such as talking to others about situations that cause considerable emotional pain or the emotions you are experiencing on a daily basis.

A person may mourn for months or even years. In most cases, grief lessens with time as you learn to live without the person or thing you have lost, accept the fact that you are unable to change the past and start making room in your life for healing. 


Grief Symptoms

Loss and grief can cause a wide range of symptoms in different people. What they are feeling is neither good nor wrong. However, sometimes we need help to navigate those emotions so we can complete our other responsibilities and eventually end the grieving process once we’re ready. 

When it comes to common grief symptoms, these are mentioned:

  • Void, ache, and/or pain in your stomach
  • Tightness or heaviness in your chest or neck
  • Oversensitivity to sounds
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Numbness
  • Weakness or exhaustion
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleeping issues 


Five Stages of Grief

In her book On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlines the five phases of grieving. Despite its 1969 publication, this is still the most well-recognized source of knowledge about the mourning process. Kubler-Ross conducted interviews with more than 200 terminally ill patients for her book. Through these talks, she was able to pinpoint five typical phases that people go through as they come to terms with their imminent mortality.

These are the five stages we use today to better understand the grieving process: 

  1. Denial: It is difficult for you to accept the loss and you don’t want to admit that this event happened in your life.  
  2. Anger: You might feel that you’re angry at God, at others who failed to save what you’ve lost, at yourself, or even at no one in particular.
  3. Bargaining: To avoid coping with a loss, you can envision coming to an arrangement. You could also feel remorse for certain actions that you believe could have prevented loss.
  4. Depression: Emotional detachment is one of the complicated feelings that are linked to depression.
  5. Acceptance: With time, you will be able to accept the loss and find a way to continue with your daily activities, accepting that the event changed you and that you’re accepting the pain it comes with. 


Types of Grief

There are several ways that bereavement can be felt. The various forms of grief illustrate the complexity and variety of grief.


Anticipatory Grief

Grieving in anticipation of a loss means starting the grieving process before it happens. For instance, finding out that you or a loved one has a fatal illness may cause you to start mourning. Grief processing in advance might help you be ready to accept the loss when it happens. However, it’s crucial to remember that grief shouldn’t keep you from savoring the limited time you have.


Short-term Grief

There are moments when you can get over your grief very fast. This is the situation with a shorter period of grieving. Abbreviated grief may occasionally follow anticipatory grief. Because you’ve already used a lot of emotional energy anticipating the loss, you may grieve it more swiftly. It’s not a sign that you never cared about what you lost if you were just grieving briefly.


Delayed Grief

After a loss, you don’t feel the grief-related emotions right away. You might experience them days, weeks, or even months later. Sometimes, your body takes a while to process these feelings because of the shock of the loss. Or perhaps your body can’t grieve until you’ve taken care of the practical issues that come with loss, such as funerals and wills, because you’re too occupied with them.


Repressed Grief

Inhibited mourning is the suppression of feelings. Most of us haven’t received any instruction on identifying or handling the complex feelings that might surface throughout the mourning process. Because of this, many people suppress their emotions without realizing it. 


Accumulated Grief

When you experience cumulative grief, you process several losses at once. You’re not only grieving the death of a child, for instance. You’re mourning the breakup of a marriage that came after that tragedy. Grieving many losses at once adds unanticipated complexity and difficulty to the process.


Collective Grief

Though most of us consider grieving personal, communal sadness often occurs among communities. Significant occurrences like pandemics, natural catastrophes, school shootings, and conflicts cause wide-ranging losses that alter the definition of “normal” living. We mourn the common experiences we have lost as a community while finding it difficult to envision a different future.


Final Words

It’s not necessary for you to experience grief on your own. You might rather talk to a therapist in person or online, seek an online support group with members who’ve experienced the same as you, or read books on this topic. Whatever works for you, stick to it. This is your grieving process, and what works for others might not work for you. Just keep in mind that help is always there when you are ready to accept it. 



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