Grief is a normal and necessary part of mourning. The thought of being unable to continue with life when you’ve lost someone very dear crosses the mind of those who are left behind. But these thoughts are passing. We move on and carry on with life.

We remember, and we love as well as we can, given the circumstances. When is grief problematic? You may be seeing symptoms that may already be pathological from a loved one who is suffering loss. How could you distinguish grief from a condition that is leading to severe mental incapacity?

Grief counseling

Grief counseling is an essential component of palliative care services here in Indiana and similar programs dealing with imminent death or actual loss. The service is intended to assist clients in grieving in a way that is still healthy and not debilitating.

Clients in such programs receive the help and support they need to cope with emotions, and, if necessary, identify them. The main goal is to find the means within oneself to keep moving forward.

Symptoms of grief

If you know of someone who is going through a grieving period, you have probably observed the presence of palpable sadness. In many, it is clear to see that they are still in a state of disbelief. Some manifest with expressions of shame, regret and guilt, especially when they are in conflict with the person they have lost, or when there was no chance to say goodbye.

Feelings of anxiety are easy to arise. Helplessness and loneliness are sometimes too overwhelming that it could render the person unproductive and solitary. Some people who are grieving also experience physical symptoms such as nausea, heart palpitations and loss of weight.

As time progresses, and the person learns to deal with the loss, the symptoms should wane. Without the right state of mind, adequate support and proper guidance, it could be easy to take the path to destruction, where grief persists, and people allow sorrow and heartbreak to consume and define them.

Grief versus trauma

man crying on the couch

It is important to distinguish between the symptoms of grief and signs of trauma. A person who may have been traumatized by death could perseverate and keep expressing a visual memory that they could not shake off.

Flashbacks are healthy to an extent, but someone who keeps mentioning a painful memory or image could already be experiencing trauma instead of undergoing grief. For these people, it is imperative that they receive the right kind of help – from someone who has experience ushering people into recovery.

Grieving is a necessity, and they have to grieve appropriately. Oftentimes, they only need a guiding hand.

Mourning is an important aspect of life – a necessary process that allows us to accept the reality of a loss. Someone who is manifesting symptoms of grief should be allowed to undergo the process, to work through the pain and adjust to the new status quo.

Some people may need help and guidance so that they do not become at risk of developing an unhealthy coping mechanism. We all need to grieve when we lose someone. We all must move on with our lives as well.