Grief & Loss

Grief and Loss

By Amy Fayazrad,

Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional suffering someone experiences when something or someone significant is taken away. The greater the loss, the more intense the grief will be. The death of a loved one is often associated with grief, but any loss can cause grief, including:

– Divorce or a relationship breakup     – Loss of health

– Losing a job                                    – Loss of financial stability

– Retirement                                      – Miscarriage

– Selling the family home                    – Death of a pet

– Loss of a cherished dream                – A loved one’s serious illness

– Loss of a friendship                          – Loss of safety after a trauma


Grief can be expressed in various ways, such as:

a)  Physically– crying, headaches, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, fatigue, feelings of heaviness, aches, pains, and other stress-related ailments;

b)  Emotionally – feelings of sadness and yearning, worry, anxiety, frustration, anger, and guilt;

c)  Socially– feeling detached from others, isolating from social contact, and behaving in ways that are not typical for the individual such as being suspicious or becoming hostile;

d)  Spiritually– questioning the reason for the loss, the purpose, pain, and suffering; the purpose of life, and the meaning of death. After a death, the grieving process is influenced by how the individual views death.


According to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, there are five stages of grief. These stages do not always occur in a linear manner since everyone grieves in their own way. The stages are:

1)  Denial– denying the reality of the situation is a normal reaction to rationalizing overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock, in that the individual blocks out the words and hides from the facts.

2)  Anger– This emotion can manifest itself in different ways.  The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends, family, or at the dying or deceased loved one, if that is the case.  The individual may also feel guilty for being angry, and this could make them angrier.

3)  Bargaining–  involves the hope that the individual can somehow undo or avoid the cause of grief.  Sometimes the individual attempts to negotiate with a higher power for a different outcome or a compromise.  Bargaining seldom provides a sustainable solution, especially if it is a matter of life or death.

4)  Depression– it is natural to feel sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty when going through this stage. Feeling those emotions show that the individual has begun to accept the situation. Often times, this is the ideal path to take, to find closure and make their way to acceptance.

5)  Acceptance– the individual starts to come to terms with what has happened or what will happen, and they appear increasingly happier and more content as they move forward.


Some helpful strategies to get through this tough time are to:

  • Establish a simple routine to create structure
  • Practice self-care activities such as cuddle with a pet, journal, read poetry or inspirational quotes, go for a run or walk, call a friend, or schedule a lunch or coffee date
  • Utilize progressive relaxation techniques, abdominal breathing, and/or imagery to reduce stress
  • Gather information about grief and what to expect
  • Seek out a support group
  • Prepare to face new or difficult situations
  • Provide a structured decision-making framework to deal with difficult decisions e.g., When to sort through belongings? Whether to take off the wedding ring? Whether to move or not?


Therapy can be helpful when an individual is grieving in that there will be support, guidance, and space for the individual to tell their story, express their thoughts and feelings, attempt to make sense of what has happened, and build a new life for themselves. If you or someone you know is struggling to cope with a loss, please call Barnes and Klatt at (847) 981-9200 x100.


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