Grief Reactions

Grief Reactions

When grief comes into your life, you may feel overwhelmed. Something has happened to you or someone you love. There is a loss. It may feel temporary or permanent. All losses are unique. Our reactions to grief are multi-faceted and include our cognitions, physical, emotional, behavioural, spiritual/beliefs, and economic. We need to work through all the dimensions.

Cognitive grief reactions

You might feel overwhelmed by the changes and wonder if you are alone in how you think.

  • It’s my fault. I’m to blame.
  • I feel abandoned.
  • I can’t concentrate.
  • Is this normal?
  • Am I going crazy?
  • Losing things, forgetting appointments or events
  • Inability to engage with a task

Physical grief reactions

Your bodies carry grief, and some of the symptoms can include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Gut issues
  • Headaches, feeling dizzy, dry mouth (may be associated with thirst or hunger)
  • Skin conditions
  • Accidents (slips, trips, and falls)

Emotional grief reactions

You might be noticing many emotions that may show up, including sadness, guilt, anger, fear, relief, hopelessness, anxiety, jealousy, and shame.


Feeling different from friends and you may experience that people treat you differently. Invalidating or minimizing losses from others “Aren’t you over it yet?” “But he was just a dog!” You may feel isolated and feel that others do not understand.


You may notice that you are using maladaptive ways of coping with the loss, such as:

  • Eating more or eating less.
  • Sleep disturbances include difficulty sleeping, sleeping during the day, too much sleep or not enough, and nightmares.
  • Soothing through alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, and overspending.


You may be experiencing changes in your financial circumstances resulting in financial stress, hardship, or increased wealth.

  • Loss of earnings due to carer role forced retirement due to ill health/disability.
  • Death of a partner/spouse
  • Inheritance and difficulty managing an increase in wealth.


Grief Reactions