What is grief?  Grief, in a nutshell, is the most painful experience one will ever go through. Grief comes when you have lost someone  so near and dear to you that you fall apart when they are gone.  You lose track of time.  You cry uncontrollably.  You isolate yourself from others.  You wear the same clothes for four days in a row.  You do many things that you would not ordinarily do if you were not grieving.

Grieving is a process that results from grief.

What are some of the symptoms of grief?

Shock/Numbness - Feelings of disbelief, or not having any feelings at all.  You may feel as if you should be sad, but you're not.  You may feel like you should be crying, but you're not.  You're in a frozen emotional state where you don't know how you feel, but you know you should have some sort of feelings about the situation.

Frustration - Not understanding your feelings or how to express them.  Maybe you are upset, but can't quite process your thoughts and feelings on a situation.  Your mind is telling you that something happened, but your mind is also telling you that everything is confusing and needs to be straightened out, but you don't know where to begin.

Anger/Rage - Often directed at the deceased or other people.  You may be angry with the deceased because they have left you alone, or because they did not listen to you.  You may be angry because you want answers, but you don't have any.  You may be angry at others whom you think may have had a responsibility in the event.  You may also be angry at others because they say things that you find upsetting or inappropriate, no matter how well meaning they might be.

Guilt - Due to feelings of relief that the deceased is no longer suffering, or if the relationship was strained.  Sometimes people feel guilty when they think that the deceased is in a better place and is no longer suffering.  It might feel like a betrayal, or feel like you don't want the person around anymore, even though you do.  Sometimes the deceased wasn't always nice, and when they are gone you feel guilty because amends were never made, or because you are relieved that you don't have to endure the punishment of their behaviors any longer. Sometimes people feel guilty because they survived and the other person didn't.  

Regret - For time not spent together or things that will never be shared or said.  This can happen people aren't on good terms at the time of death.  Amends weren't made, feelings weren't repaired, good-byes weren't said.  This is incredibly tough because it leaves the surviving person with so many unsaid words and so many thoughts and feelings they weren't able to express before the other person died.

Denial - Denying that the loved one is gone; refusing to let go; referring to them in the present tense.  Part of the grieving process is accepting the reality of the loss.  It takes a lot of work to get to the acceptance point.  Until that happens, some people remain in denial. They continue to expect to hear from their lost loved ones, or expect them to walk in the door at any moment.  Some people don't want to go home because they are afraid of facing the reality that their loved one is no longer there.

Panic/Nervousness - Anxiety; feelings of abandonment; worry over how personal needs will be met.  Sometimes this happens when the deceased was the financial provider, or took care of all of the bills and household issues.  This leaves the surviving loved one in a position of anxiety because everything becomes their responsibility.  They must now learn to balance a checkbook, make repairs, find employment, try and figure out how to maintain the household by themselves.  It can be a very trying and unnerving time.

Fear - Of dying; being more in touch with mortality; of losing other people; of darkness.  The loss of a loved one can be extremely depressing.  It is a reminder that life is indeed short.  Nothing is forever.  Sometimes friends will stop calling, or will disappear from your life altogether because they don't want to "catch" whatever you are going through.  This is most likely to happen in the event of a homicide.  People sometimes think it can happen to them so they distance themselves from the surviving family members.

Depression - Feelings of intense sadness, hopelessness, and lack of desire to do things; not wanting to live any longer.  Trying to adjust to life without a loved one can be emotionally debilitating.  The feelings of sadness are so strong that some days you may not want to get out of bed or leave the house.  You have little or no energy to do anything.  You don't want to eat, talk, or even think.  You may feel as if you will never recover, or that you should have been the one to die instead. 

Isolation - Withdrawing from other people; wanting to be alone; being apathetic toward involvement in things.  It becomes much easier to stay home instead of hanging out with people who are happen when you are experiencing extreme feelings of sadness.  You don't want people feeling sorry for you, so you'd rather avoid any encounters with others until you feel better.  You don't answer the phone or texts, you don't respond to email, and if someone knocks on the door you don't even budge from the couch.  You'd much rather be alone in your sorrow while you process your situation because you don't believe any one else could possibly understand what you're going through.

Emotional distress - Shown through physical ailments such as: headaches, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, changes in sleep patterns, tightness of breath, loss of concentration and constant fatigue.  It feels like this could be the worst flu you've ever had.  Instead, it's grief telling you that you need to see someone regarding your emotional well-being.  When you avoid processing your grief, your grief starts to manifest itself physically and various ailments begin to appears.  This is the body's way of telling you that you need to seek help by way of an appointment with your physician, therapist, clergy, or other medical or mental health professional.

While these symptoms are a normal part of the grieving process, we urge you to seek professional help in dealing with your grief.  It is imperative that you seek outside help as you go through the grieving process so that you do not avoid processing your feelings.  You do not have to go through this alone.