Identifying Grief and Loss

There are many types of loss; everyone who experiences loss also experiences their own personalised grief. There is the loss of a partner, spouse, family member, child or friend. There are also many other types of loss including loss of a pet, loss of a job or home, loss of youth, loss of mobility or loss of sight.

A person’s response to loss is personal and individualistic. For some, the loss of a pet can be as equally devastating as the loss of a spouse or partner.

Grief is a normal human reaction, but how we express grief and mourning may vary due to our culture. In many Western cultures, there is an expectation that people will recover from grief and mourning quickly. People are pressured “to get over it,” to keep busy and move on with their life.

In some Western cultures, there is a strong reaction to tears or sadness. We may find people looking for a solution to the problem rather than allowing the expression of grief. Loss and how we grieve is not only individualistic but can also be cultural.

People often use a variety of coping strategies when they experience a major loss. These coping strategies may include, avoidance of painful triggers (photographs, places or people), distractions, keeping busy either at work or home, obsessing or ruminating over details of the loss, impulsive behaviour, making life-changing decisions on the spur of the moment, intellectualising, talking or thinking about the loss without showing emotions and attaching to people

There are often physical symptoms when a person is in a state of grief. These may include poor concentration and memory, disrupted sleep, poor appetite, self-medication with drugs or alcohol. Other physical symptoms may include tightness in the throat or chest, sighing, tension, pain and an empty feeling in the stomach.

A person may experience similar feelings to bereavement with the ending of a close relationship. Or this may happen when a person is separated from a part of their life that they consider important.

Loss is a universal experience; we will all experience loss in our lives. The process of grieving after the loss of a relationship or death of a loved one is extremely complex. Western society often appears to negate how important the grieving process is, and sometimes appear to reduce it to platitudes, like “they’ve gone to a better place“ or, “don’t worry you’ll get over it I did.” If Western society comes to acknowledge the importance of grieving, then individuals may have the chance to truly grieve openly and express their feelings and receive much-needed care and support.

Grief and Loss Counselling can help

The process of moving forward after a loss of a significant loved one can be accompanied by strong feelings of guilt. Guilt may also be accompanied by strong feelings of regret; that something was left unsaid or left undone. Some people feel that their loved one is still with them while others feel that they have been completely abandoned. You may feel the loss of your past memories or the loss of your future.

If you are experiencing grief and loss the Online Therapy Company offers a safe and confidential environment. Through grief and loss counselling we can explore your sorrow, and work through these strong and overpowering feelings and memories.

Online Psychological Therapies we Offer:


Reconciling Grief

Kubler Ross’s five stages of grieving; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, are now considered more appropriate for coming to terms with dying. If a person is grieving someone’s death then the four steps of reconciling may be more relevant. These four stages are;

  • Accept the reality of the loss.
  • Allow yourself to deal with the pain. Feel it. Don’t deny the hurt.
  • Ask yourself, “How do I keep living and doing what I need to do?”
  • Tell yourself that you cannot just adjust, but also make a wonderful life. It will not be the same, but it can be wonderful in a different way.

People who have nursed a partner through their whole illness to their death may experience feelings or thoughts around; who will look after me when it comes to my turn?

Some people fear they will forget the voice of someone who they have lost. They may keep a recording or not wipe the answering machine. It’s normal to feel anger and abandonment if you have recently lost someone close to you.

Healing begins when you:

  • Express your feelings.
  • Are patient with yourself.
  • Stay alert to your physical needs.
  • Learn more about grief and its effects.
  • Ask for help when needed.



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Author – Dr Aisha Ali – DPsych Couns Psych, ADOS 2 Certified B.Psych (Hons)

Dr Aisha Ali is a highly experienced BPS Chartered Counselling Psychologist and Expert witness with over 15 years experience of working within the NHS in complex care and private practice. She has extensive experience of working with individuals, couples and families presenting with complex psychological and emotional issues. Aisha provides life and performance coaching.