Grieving is a time when your mind and body may experience many changes, and it is important to be aware that this is all part of the process of healing. You may find that you have some surprising responses to your grief.

A few possible emotional responses to grief:

  • The loss does not feel real to you.
  • You have a sense of the loved one's presence, expecting them to walk in the door at the usual time, hearing their voice or seeing their face.
  • You may assume traits or mannerisms of the loved one.
  • You may feel guilty or angry over things that did or did not happen in the relationship.
  • You may feel intensely angry at the loved one for leaving you.
  • Mood changes or unexpected crying over seemingly small things are common.
  • You may feel out of place with people, and withdraw from friends and activities.
  • You may have a need to tell and retell things about the loved one and the experience of death, or, conversely, you may feel unable to talk about the loved one.
  • You may experience difficulty with concentration, forgetfulness, and sleeplessness.

Some common physical responses to grief:

  • Tightness in the throat or heaviness in the chest.
  • An empty feeling in the stomach or loss of appetite.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Intestinal problems.
  • Oversensitivity to noise.
  • Muscle weakness, fatigue, or listlessness.
  • 'Heartache' or aching arms.
  • Physical symptoms experienced by the deceased before death (which can be understood as a way to feel closer to the person you have lost).

Remember as you look at these lists that although all of these reactions are normal and expected, everyone grieves differently. How you grieve depends on many factors, including who it was that you lost, how the loved one died, your previous life experiences, gender, age, and personality. Everyone's grieving process is a personal, individual journey, but you can find help and understanding along the way.

Back to Paths to Healing