What Happens When We Grieve

Written by

Brenda Gibbs MC, B.Ed., B.A.

Just like our fingerprints, our grieving is individual.

Before I was widowed, I thought grieving was just lots of crying. And it is. But I found out that it is so much more.  

Just like our fingerprints, our grieving is individual.

There is a constellation of grief symptoms that will be unique to you. As you navigate through the stages of grief, life can be very chaotic and upsetting. It’s ok that you’re not ok.  

The following list may surprise and overwhelm you in the length of symptoms of grief. You certainly won’t experience everything here. Remember, your grief shows in your own way. Easy does it.  

Physical - Shown through behaviours, health, and body

  • Sleep disturbances, dreams of the deceased
  • Appetite change, overuse of alcohol and drugs
  • Poor work performance, absent-minded behavior
  • Headaches, dry mouth, heart palpitations
  • Lowered immune system (flu, colds)
  • Tightness in throat and chest, hollowness in stomach, shortage of breath, sighing
  • Lack of energy
  • Sensitivity to noise

Emotional Symptoms - Shown through feelings and attitudes

  • Crying, angry outbursts
  • Sadness, anger, frustration, guilt, regret, anxiety, shock, helplessness, loneliness, relief, numbness, yearning, emptiness, despair, shame
  • Explosive emotions such as hate, blame, rage, resentment, revenge, jealousy and beneath these feelings are pain, fear, and hurt
  • Social withdrawal, neglect of self, restlessness
  • Avoiding reminders of the past

Mental - Shown through thoughts and perceptions

  • Confusion, disbelief, preoccupations, loss of interest
  • Poor concentration and memory loss, negative thoughts
  • Mental fatigue

Spiritual - Shown through sense of self and religion

  • Worldview changes
  • Beliefs are questioned
  • Lack of meaning or direction in life

 What a list! No wonder you may be feeling so terrible right now. Knowing that these are part of mourning may help you relax and be a little easier on yourself.