NHS Lothian

What is grief? An overview

1 min read

Grief is a highly personal and complex process that will affect you in ways that are unique to you. You may be grieving for someone that you’ve lost, or you may be grieving for something important that has changed in your life. Whatever the cause of your grief, there’s no right or wrong way to cope. It’s common to feel that you’re struggling more than you should be, or that you’re taking longer to heal than you should do.  However, there’s no timeline or deadline when you’re coping with loss. So don’t be telling yourself that you’re weak or that you need to hurry up and move on. You’ll grieve in your own way and at your own pace.

If you’ve been bereaved before, your experiences this time might feel different. You may feel you ‘need’ to resume your daily life and return to your responsibilities, but it is important to take time to cope with your grief.

Coping with grief is not a straightforward process. This means that sometimes you might feel as though you’ve taken one step forward and two steps back.  Similarly, you might feel a bit better at certain times and then feel the pain very strongly at other times. It‘s hard to believe when your grief is raw that you won’t always feel like this, but you will start to feel better with time.


Is it normal to have mixed feelings?

Emotionally, you may be feeling numb, anxious, angry, frightened, disorientated, overwhelmed, depressed, guilty or confused. Any, or all, of these feelings are normal and you may experience them at different times and in any order. It’s common to struggle with your sleep, with your appetite, and with concentration and making decisions. You might also have physical pain, such as muscle pain or headaches.

Although it’s normal to have a range of intense and varied feelings, it will take time to make sense of the changes that loss brings. Some of the things that will affect how you feel after the loss of a loved one are shown here:



Low mood, better sleep, substance misuse

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