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Concord High School

Concord High School

Personalising Education

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Grief and Loss

What is grief?

Grief is your emotional reaction to a significant loss. The words sorrow and heartache are often used to describe feelings of grief. Anticipatory grief is grief that strikes in advance of an impending loss. You may feel anticipatory grief for a loved one who is sick and dying. Anticipatory grief helps us prepare for loss.


What is grieving?

Grieving is the process of emotional and life adjustment you go through after a loss. Grieving after a loved one's death is also known as bereavement.


Grieving is a personal experience. Depending on who you are and the nature of your loss, your process of grieving will be different from another person's experience. There is no "normal and expected" period of time for grieving.


How does normal grief manifest itself?

Feelings might include: sadness, anger, guilt, fatigue, helplessness, shock, anxiety, loneliness, numbness relief, free


Cognitions (thoughts) might include:disbelief, confusion, preoccupation, sense of presence, hallucinations


Behaviours might include:sleep disturbances, appetite disturbances, social withdrawal, dreams of the deceased, avoiding reminders, searching and calling out, restless activity, crying, treasuring objects


Physical sensations might include:hollowness in stomach, tightness in chest, oversensitivity to noise, breathlessness, weakness, lack of energy, dry mouth


Strategies for managing grief

There are lots of things you can try to help you work through grief after someone has died. How you feel about what has happened will change over time; so some strategies may feel like they work better at different points in time than others. Some strategies you can try include


Grief time. Allow yourself 15 or 20 minutes each day to grieve. Make sure you are in a space where you can be alone. Switch off your phone. This time is a safety valve – it's an opportunity to allow yourself to deal with any feelings you have stored up. How you use it is up to you. Think, cry, pray, meditate, write, or draw.


Keep a diary . Write down your feelings, your grief, and the memories of the person who has passed away. It's a great way to keep track of how your grief changes over the weeks and months – and can be used as proof in difficult moments, that you are making progress.


Let yourself cry (if you can). Tears are often a sign of strength and show that you are prepared to work through your grief. So if you feel like crying, don't hold yourself back. If you want to cry and can't, though, don't worry. A lot of people find it really hard to cry, and express their grief in other ways. Cry alone or cry with someone. Whatever you feel more comfortable doing.


Talk to someone you trust. Grieving can feel really lonely, and it's a long process, so find someone you can talk to – e.g. a friend or family member. A lot of people find it helpful to talk to people who have been through similar experiences. If you think you might, consider joining a support group.


The most important thing to know about these strategies, is that you need to give yourself some time. It can take a really long time to work through your lowest moments when someone has died, and it's normal to feel like your life has been turned upside down for a while.


Do's and Don'ts in grief – from S. Lieberman

The following general guidelines can be given to any person who is grieving

  • Don't avoid your feelings of anger or sadness
  • Don't use alcohol or drugs in order to ‘block out' your feelings
  • Don't isolate yourself from others
  • Do discuss your feelings about your relative/friend with friends, relatives or helpers
  • Don't hide away your photos or other memorabilia to avoid grief.


For those who have to cope with a relative or friend who is grieving, the following guidelines may be of use:

  • Don't overprotect your relative
  • Don't insist on them being treated as if they were ill
  • Don't be offended at their angry feelings
  • Don't compulsively try to cheer them up
  • Don't try to find something positive about the loss
  • Encourage them to express their feelings
  • Do let your care and concern show
  • Encourage them to be patient with themselves, not to expect too much of themselves.


Most importantly - always talk to someone you trust if you're feeling overwhelmed. Speak to your parents, family member, teacher, year advisor, school counsellor. We can help you.