Grief: Ways to help yourself and others
By Katie Morell for Chicago Health Online
Grief is a topic difficult to discuss, but it’s universally felt. Intense grief can surface from a variety of circumstances; from the death of a loved one to the feeling of loss over disastrous current events.
Processing grief can be difficult. Some people prefer not to admit that they are hurting while others can’t stop talking about their feelings. Therefore, the symptoms associated with grief can come in a variety of forms.
Emotional symptoms include feelings of sadness, loss, apathy and fear.
“You might not feel like doing things; most notably things that you used to find pleasurable,” says Joyce Marter, LCPC, founder and CEO of Urban Balance, a counseling practice with six locations throughout the Chicago area. “You could feel numb or confused or frustrated and ask yourself why this happened.”
Physiological symptoms can range from changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or hypersomnia [excessive sleep]) to overeating or undereating. And physical signs of grief can include migraines, headaches and stomachaches.
“You may have pains in the body or feel an aching for that person,” says Marter, who lost her mother in 2008 to a brain tumor. “I’ve felt the physical craving of wanting to hold my mother.”
Appetite fluctuations can also be a sign of grief, says Fran Nathanson, a licensed social worker and bereavement team leader at Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter in Glenview. “If someone is continuing to gain weight or lose weight unintentionally, that could be an indication,” she says.