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Understanding My Grief Symptoms

Understanding My Grief Symptoms

Getting to know your grief symptoms is a great awareness exercise that lets you know what is going on in your body and how you are experiencing your grief. Below is a list of emotional, physical, mental, behavioural and spiritual grief reactions.

I’d like you to go through the list and write in your journal every grief reaction that you have felt or experienced in the last few weeks, months or years.

Once you have made your list, now choose five grief reactions and write about how they are currently impacting your life. Ultimately, all you are doing is gaining awareness of how your grief reactions are impacting you in your everyday life, including your workplace, family, friendships, health and relationships. 

I’m not suggesting for one minute that we try and fix or get rid of the grief reactions, what I am hoping is that you gain a deeper awareness of how they are playing out in your life.

When you lose someone you love, you are bound to experience intense grief reactions. This is normal, yet we judge ourselves a lot and unfortunately others judge us too. No one is immune to pain when they lose someone they love, the only difference is, that it impacts us all so uniquely.

Here is an example:

Crying – I find that I cry most days when I think about my (loved one).  I know that when my friends see me cry, they try and make me feel happy and this makes me want to cry even more because they won’t let me express my grief.  I cry at work when I feel really stressed because I am so emotionally drained (people at work don’t know that I am emotionally drained because I hide it well) and I have to go to the bathroom to take some time out to gather my thoughts and emotions. I cry myself to sleep most nights because I miss my (loved one) so much. I cry while I drive to work because this is the only time that I get to be alone where people won’t judge me or try and make me feel better.

Be kind to yourself when doing this exercise. You deserve to understand the impacts of your grief reactions and how they are playing out in all aspects of your life. Just remember, please don’t judge yourself.

Grief is very painful…….

Normal Grief Reactions


Anxiety, fear, sadness, anger, guilt, inadequacy, hurt, relief, loneliness, devastated


A hollow feeling in the stomach, tightness in the chest, tightness in the throat, over sensitive to noise, lethargy, breathlessness, muscle weakness, dizzy, lightheaded


Disbelief, confusion, preoccupation, sensing the person you have lost is around you


Crying, sleep disturbances, sighing, restlessness, poor appetite, absentmindedness, social withdrawal, dreams of the deceased, looking out for the deceased, treasuring objects of the deceased


Questioning the reason for your loss, questioning the purpose of pain and suffering, questioning the purpose of life and the meaning of death, praying.