Is my grief normal?

Many people come to see me because they are concerned they are not grieving properly. Many are told by family and friends that they should be over the grief by now and worry that their family and friends are right.

So what is considered “normal”?

It is normal to grieve a loss.

Grief is the emotional suffering you feel when someone or something you love is taken away. That pain can be overwhelming.

The emotional pain you experience can be mixed and not what you might expect to feel.

You may feel shock, anger, disbelief, relief, guilt, devastated, extremely sad, numbness, denial, despair, anxiety, loneliness, depression, helplessness and yearning.

You may feel overwhelming feelings and thoughts as well as physical sensations and behaviours you don’t normally experience.

Your progression through grief may not look like someone else’s progression through grief. But that doesn’t mean your grief experience is wrong, or that someone else’s grief experience is wrong. There are many different ways to grieve.

Basically, when you are grieving you will come to a point where you can:

• Accept the reality of your loss

• Allow yourself to experience the pain of your loss

• Adjust to the new reality in which who or what you have lost is no longer present

• Allow yourself to have other relationships.

All these things will take different amounts of time for different people and will be experienced at different intensities by different people.

You will reach a point when you find yourself interested in life again and are able to think of the one you love without a more manageable pain.

Sometimes the act of grieving becomes stuck and the person is known as suffering from prolonged grief, sometimes also known as complicated or persistent grief.

The definition of prolonged grief is that is must be at least 6-12 months after the loss of a loved one and be longer than the expectation of the society and culture to which the person belongs.

Such a person will still have a persistent longing for and preoccupation with the lost loved one that has not diminished with time. This longing will be accompanied by intense unrelenting emotional pain and will significantly impair the person’s daily function.

It is considered the person will have certain areas where they are emotionally stuck. These include:

• Sadness

• Guilt

• Anger

• Denial

• Difficulty accepting the death

• Feeling one has lost part of one’s emotional self,

• Emotional numbness, difficulty engaging with social or other activities

The person may not feel they have moved forward at all. They may feel stuck in the same pain they experienced immediately after the loss of their loved one.

This person may be unable to shake the sadness of their experience. They may be caught up in wishful thinking (If only …). They may still think and dream incessantly of the person who has died. They feel great pain related to the loss of their loved one.

They may find life is without meaning and find themselves unsure of where they fit into life anymore. They may even wish they had died with their loved one.

If you are concerned you, or someone you care about, is suffering prolonged grief then it is important to see a grief counsellor in order to work through those stuck points and release them.

If you would like to talk to me about how I can help you with your grief journey, please contact me on 0409396608 or

If you would like to learn more, I write a regular newsletter with interesting information, tips, information on courses, and the occasional freebie. At the moment I have a free mindfulness meditation for anyone who signs up to my newsletter. This meditation offers a way to safely explore your feelings and learn to be okay with them. If you would like to subscribe please click on the link here:

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