The nature of grief

If a life storm, however dramatic or subtle, has left you feeling sad, frightened, or lonely, ask yourself: “Have I given myself time to grieve?”

Too often, the answer is “no” or “I’m not sure.” We don’t know how to grieve or express the loss we’re feeling.

In traditional societies, rituals provided a community setting for grieving. People wailed, shaved their heads, wore special dress or engaged in ritual dance. In our society, expressions of grief may produce awkward silences or well-meaning comments like “You look great!” “You’re sure handling this well.” “Your loved one is so lucky to have you for support.”

Without support, the person who has experienced the loss attempts to “get on with life,” rather than mourn the person or the life they’ve known. Suppressed grief can lead to illness, depression and isolation.

Grief is a natural response to loss. “It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away,” according to, an online resource for people facing health challenges. “The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief.”

Although experts have identified predictable stages of grief, more recently they have acknowledged that each person grieves differently. How you grieve depends on your personality, life experience, and the nature of the loss.

Know that there is no right or wrong way to express your loss or no timetable for this process of grieving to unfold. If you need assistance, seek professional help, join a support group, find consolation in your faith, and/or turn to friends and family members.

Journal with these questions, knowing it’s necessary to fully experience your loss before healing can begin:

  • What is the pain I feel?
  • What have I lost?
  • How can I express my pain through words, images, or movement?
  • Who or what will allow me to express this loss freely and without judgment?
  • How can I take care of my health during this time?
  • What is likely to trigger feelings of grief, realizing this is natural?

If you want to help someone who has experienced a recent loss, know that your presence and a simple expression like “I want you to know that I care” can be reassuring. A willingness to listen compassionately and offers of concrete assistance like grocery shopping or childcare also provide meaningful support.

Find inspiring grief resources, including photography, books, e-books, DVD’s, at

Next topic: One woman’s experience with grief one year after her husband’s death.





One Response to “The nature of grief”

  1. Seven says:

    At last! Someone with real exerptise gives us the answer. Thanks!

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