Loss is a natural part of life. We all experience loss as we navigate through our life stages. We generally understand the loss of human life, but loss can occur when we lose jobs or an important role in our life, losing relationships when going through divorce or separations, the loss of a loved one’s personality to dementia or addiction, the loss of a pet or even the loss of an emotional significant possession.
The way we react to loss is called grief. Grief can affect our emotions, thoughts, behaviour, and even how we feel physically. Grieving is a process rather than an event. Grief is a normal and natural process after a loss, but it can be very painful to work through.
How people grieve may be impacted by faith, culture, spirituality, supports and/or life stage. People may have different responses and behaviours to their grief. Grief reactions may include:
- shock, disbelief and confusion
- trouble concentrating and focusing on tasks
- altered patterns of eating and sleeping
- physical changes such as dizziness, headaches or upset stomach
- sadness and yearning
- memories and thoughts about who or what has been lost
- withdrawing from usual activities..
Mourning is an outward expression of grief. People may cry, pray, journal, write poetry or songs. Mourning may be individual experience, as part of a family or even as a community. Celebrations of life or community gatherings may be seen as expressions of mourning.
The process of grief ebbs and flows and the length and intensity of grief may vary depending on the person’s relationship to their loss. Grief can be emotionally overwhelming and an easier response may be to avoid strong feelings; however leaning into those strong feelings and expressing them in healthy ways enables us to come to deeper understandings of our loss and the importance of processing loss.
Through healthy expressions of mourning, we eventually can find our way to restoring hope and motivation. Even if life after loss is different, it can be fulfilling, meaningful and joyful.
If you find that feelings of grief are overwhelming and seem “stuck,” talking to a counsellor for mental health support can offer you empathy, guidance and support.
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About the Author - Julie Watts
Julie Watts is a Registered Social Worker obtaining her Master's in Social Work with Wilfrid Laurier University. Julie is also a graduate of the University of Toronto Foundations in Mindfulness Meditation program and most recently completed the Science of Happiness at Berkeley University. She has completed various yoga training courses.
Julie has over 20 years of experience in the social services sector. Her scope of work has included child welfare, domestic violence, youth and adult justice, community health and anti-poverty work.
As a private practitioner, Julie uses various modalities including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Positive Psychology, Attachment, Trauma-Informed practice and Solution-Focused narrative therapy; Julie uses a person-centred approach to facilitate healing and growth.
Julie has found that almost every person she has supported has wanted to feel better in the their life. Julie is excited to join Absolute Health & Wellness and help YOU move from languishing to flourishing!
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