Bereavement

Stages of living with grief and anxiety symptoms

UNICEF
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ЮНІСЕФ
20 July 2022

 It is important to understand the nature of the emotions that a person — especially a child — experiences when going through a loss. This will help support them in the most difficult of moments.

The following stages of grief are common: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Some psychologists list up to ten stages. However, not all people go through them in the same order.

Therefore, it is best to consider grief through feelings, reactions and symptoms. Those include:

🔹 Emotional reactions: shock, fear, despair, denial, sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety, stupor, apathy, emptiness, resentment, helplessness, relief.

🔹 Psychological reactions: confusion, memory and concentration issues, irrational thinking, hyperactivity, loss of sense of reality, obsession with the dead, abandonment of goals, dreams or nightmares associated with death, the illusion of the presence of a deceased person.

🔹 Physical reactions: insomnia or excessive sleep, feeling of tightness in the throat, tremor, loss of appetite/overeating, pain in various parts of the body, nausea, fatigue, panic attacks.

🔹 Social reactions: loneliness, feelings of alienation from others, feelings of abandonment, the need to be alone, irritability, loss of interest in everyday social activity, reluctance to return to work or study.

🔹Spiritual reactions: anger at God, loss of faith, greater connection with God or the church, negotiations with God.

All of these feelings, symptoms and reactions are natural in bereavement, and can be intense.

❗️Seek expert psychological help if the symptoms of grief are so strong that:

  • there are problems with household tasks, at work or at school;
  • affect relationships with loved ones;
  • the situation does not improve over time.