Grief is your emotional reaction to a major loss. The words "sorrow" and "heartache" often are used to describe feelings of grief. You feel grief when you lose a beloved person, pet, place, or thing. It is also natural to feel grief when you lose a valued way of life, such as a job, marriage, or good health.
You may begin to grieve before a loss occurs. You may grieve for a loved one who is sick and dying. Children and adults often feel the pain of loss before a big move or divorce. This type of grief helps you get ready for a loss.
Grief is different for each person. There is no "normal" or "expected" period of time for grieving. Some people adjust to their loss within a couple of months. Others may take 2 years or longer, especially if their lives were changed a lot or if the loss was sudden and shocking.
Grieving can cause problems such as headaches, loss of appetite, and trouble with thinking or sleeping. You may withdraw from friends and family and behave in ways that are unusual for you. Grief may cause you to question your beliefs and views about life.
Grief is natural and does not require medical treatment. But if you have trouble sleeping, it may help to take sleeping pills for a short time. It may help to talk with people who have been through or are going through similar losses. You may also want to talk to a counsellor about your feelings. Talking about your loss, sharing your cares and concerns, and getting support from others are important parts of healthy grieving.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
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Current as of: April 19, 2018
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Jean S. Kutner, MD, MSPH - Geriatric Medicine, Palliative Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
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