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What is Grief?

July 16, 2022

what is Grief?

is the normal?

by Jamal Ross

Life has highs and lows. Some of the lowest points in our life involves the loss of something or someone that is close to our hearts. Grief is a common reaction to a challenging moment in life. Events that can lead to grief include the death of a loved one, divorce or loss of a job. Let’s find out more about the symptoms of grief and what the bible says about our recovery.

Though we tend to think of grief as occurring in stages, this idea is being abandoned and mentioned less by clinicians. The are several models that deal with the stages of grief. The stages of grief that we are most familiar with include: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. (1) In truth, clinicians are moving away from the stages of grief theory for many reasons. First, each individual has a unique grieving process and pattern. Also, everyone does not go through each stage of the grieving model. Some come to acceptance earlier. When someone is truly at peace with the death of a loved one or another major life events, some may feel as though the grieving process is not over if “anger” or “depression” were not experienced per say.  When these stages are present, they do not occur in a specific order. In other words, there is no single or widely predictable way to grieve. Our belief and faith also have a heavy influence on the grieving process.

The symptoms of typical grief are either related to feelings of separation or stress. With separation symptoms, individuals may feel a yearning for what was lost. These feeling are missed with anger, guilt, anxiety, sorrow and loneliness. With Stress symptoms, feelings of disbelief, shock and numbness can occur. With stress symptoms, concentration and memory can be affected. (2) Of course, someone can have both separation and stress symptoms. Mourning is the process of adapting to a loss. Adaptation tends to occur around 6 months. When mourning is successful, the painful and disruptive experiences of grief are transformed into a life lived with joy, while memories become bittersweet. Importantly, grief symptoms can reoccur or become heightened around special places or anniversaries of the birth of death of a loved one. This should get better with time as well.

In all, grief can be caused by any event or circumstance where there is a loss. The loss of a loved one tends to cause the most severe sypmtoms. Grief is normal and not considered a psychiatric disorder. Grief is self-limited and gets better with time. Remember, Jesus can turn your mourning into dancing (See Psalm 30:11). No matter how difficult the situation or devastating the loss, there is joy and dancing waiting for you. God will take your losses and make you forget your past as you walk in a future filled with excitement, love and all the things you prayed for. It may not seem like it, but your life will be better than you can ever imagine. Just Believe!

1. Stroebe M, Schut H, Boerner K. Cautioning Health-Care Professionals: Bereaved Persons Are Misguided Through the Stages of Grief. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying. 2017;74(4):455-473.
2. Shear K. Bereavement and grief in adults: Clinical features. In: UpToDate, Solomon D. (Eds), UpToDate, Waltham, MA (Assessed July 13, 2022)

Jamal Ross

Dr. Jamal Ross is an internist and pediatrician who possesses a passion for prayer and preventative medicine. He has worked in the fields of primary care and hospital medicine.

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