Grief is associated with feelings of sadness, yearning, guilt, regret, and anger, among others. Some people may experience a sense of meaninglessness, and others can feel a sense of relief. Emotions are often surprising in their strength or mildness, and they can also be confusing, such as when a person misses a painful relationship.
Thoughts during grief can vary from “there’s nothing I can do about it” to “it’s my fault, I could have done more” or from “she had a good life” to “it wasn’t her time.” They can be troubling or soothing, and people in grief can bounce between different thoughts as they make sense of their loss. Grieving behaviors run from crying to laughter, and from sharing feelings to engaging silently in activities like cleaning, writing, or exercising. Some people find comfort in the company of others, particularly with those who may be similarly affected by the loss, and others may prefer to be alone with their feelings. Everyone grieves in their own way and in their own time. Some people recover from grief and resume normal activities within six months, though they continue to feel moments of sadness. Others may feel better after about a year, and sometimes people continue to grieve for years without seeming to improve or find relief even temporarily. Grief can be complicated by other conditions, most notably depression, or by the person’s level of dependency on the departed.
The term grief can be used for more than just the loss of a loved one. Many people feel grief or loss after changing jobs, graduation from college, or moving to a new city. The loss of a person's identity can contribute greatly to these feelings. While loss affects people in different ways, many experience the following symptoms when they’re grieving. Just remember that almost anything that you experience in the early stages of grief is normal—including feeling like you’re going crazy, feeling like you’re in a bad dream, or questioning your religious beliefs.