Grief occurs in response to the loss of someone or something. The loss may involve a loved one, a job, or possibly a role (student entering the workplace or employee entering retirement). Anyone can experience grief and loss. It can be sudden or expected; however, individuals are unique in how they experience this event. Grief, itself, is a normal and natural response to loss. There are a variety of ways that individuals respond to loss. Some are healthy coping mechanisms and some may hinder the grieving process. It is important to realize that acknowledging the grief promotes the healing process. Time and support facilitate the grieving process, allowing an opportunity to appropriately mourn this loss.
Individuals experiencing grief from a loss may choose a variety of ways of expressing it. No two people will respond to the same loss in the same way. It is important to note that phases of grief exist; however, they do not depict a specific way to respond to loss. Rather, stages of grief reflect a variety of reactions that may surface as an individual makes sense of how this loss affects them. Experiencing and accepting all feelings remains an important part of the healing process.
Denial, numbness, and shock
Seldom does a person go into one side of grief and come out the other side the same as before the loss. Think of going through your grief, rather than getting over the loss. By seeing the process through, you can develop personal strengths to cope with other types of loss and difficulties that may come up later in life. Acceptance of the loss means gaining a perspective - a new sense of self and what you can do with you life. You may find the following helpful:
Grieving, as natural and healthy as it is, can also be a painful and frightening thing to go through. If you'd like to talk to someone about anything you've read here, or anything that the reading this might have stirred up for you, please contact Counseling Services at 715-425-3884.
Social support for the bereaved is most important. Others can provide a patient presence to allow the bereaved an opportunity to tell the story of the loss and to share how he or she is feeling. Remember that it is up to the individual to get through the grieving process; others can only provide support. If you are concerned for someone who appears to be having a difficult time managing alone, you may want to suggest seeking professional assistance.
Death, The Final Stage of Growth. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1975 Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth
On Death and Dying. New York: MacMillan, 1969 Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth
When Bad Things Happen to Good People. New York: Schocken Books, 1981Kushner, H.S.
Courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Counseling Center
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler: Help with grief process
HELPGUIDE.org: Coping with grief and loss
Virtual Pamphlet Collection (topics compiled from top college counseling centers)
Page updated August 2012 by Mark Huttemier, MA, LPC. Personal Counselor in Student Health and Counseling at University of Wisconsin – River Falls