Common Questions About Grief & Loss

13945511_sOver the years, I’ve been asked common questions about grief and loss.  Having the answer to some of these questions can help you better understand why you might react the way you do.  Some of these questions are:

1.  Does a loss have to be a death of a loved one?

A:  Loss can be anything or anyone who leaves your life that was important to you.  A death of a loved one, a friend who moves away, the ending of an addiction, or an ending of a relationship (divorce or a job).  Obviously, every loss will have a different level of impact.  Each person will react differently and each event will have a varied effect on each person.

2.  What is the difference between loss and grief?

A:  Loss is the act of someone or something leaving your life.  Grief is the emotional reaction to the loss.  Like cause and effect.  We all grieve in different ways.  Elisabeth Kubler-Ross came up with the 5 stages of grief:  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  She believed individuals can slip in out of different stages at anytime.  There are times you can be in acceptance and later slip into anger.  Learn more about the stages of grief:

3.  What are the effects of early loss on someone?

A.  I find individuals who have had numerous or large losses early on in their life, tend to re-experience a similar grief response to present day loss as they did when they were a child.  For example, Gloria had numerous deaths of loved ones from the age of 12 – 20 y o.  She felt alone with her feelings and had no one to talk to.  She stuffed her feelings and over ate to manage her feelings.  When she was 36 y o, she experienced a loss of a close friend.  She immediately stuffed her feelings, and began to over eat.  She had learned to cope with grief in an ineffective way.  Every time she experienced loss, she was faced with urges and cravings to stuff her emotions.  She began therapy with me to develop a new and effective way to manage grief.  I would suspect had Gloria learned effective ways to manage grief when she was a child, she would have a larger tool kit of skills to manage her emotions.  Doesn’t mean the loss would be any different, but she would have tools to help her through.  I helped Gloria gain insight and learn new skills to manage her feelings.  She had a place to share her feelings, which she didn’t have as a child.  She was able to develop new ways to express and release grief.

4.  What are skills that help you manage grief?

-To have a belief your loved one is still watching or is energetically still alive in your heart and memories though he or she is not present.

-Journaling your emotions.

-Join a grief and loss support group.

-Ask friends to help and accept help from others.

-Exercise and get out in the sun.

-Come up with an annual tradition to honor your loved one.

-Read books and spiritual material that feels inspiring.

-Talk to a therapist and allow yourself to be vulnerable.

-Identify ineffective coping skills and get help and support to find new ways to cope with the stress of losing someone.

-Create an artistic project that communicates your feelings.

-Be of service.

-Create a gratitude list or journal.




Elana Clark-Faler
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