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Grief (Actual/Anticipated): Care Instructions


Grief is an emotional and physical reaction to a major loss. The words "sorrow" and "heartache" often are used to describe feelings of grief. You may 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.

Grief is different for each person. There is no "normal" or "expected" period of time for grieving.

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. 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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Get enough sleep. Missing sleep may make it harder for you to cope with your grief.
  • Eat healthy foods. Ask someone to join you for a meal if you don't like eating alone.
  • Get some exercise every day. Even a walk can help you deal with your grief. Other exercises, such as yoga, may also help you manage stress.
  • Stay involved in your life. Don't withdraw from the activities you enjoy. People you know at work, church, clubs, or other groups can help you.
  • Comfort yourself. Familiar surroundings and special items, such as photos or a loved one's favourite shirt, may give you comfort.
  • Think about joining a support group.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You feel you cannot stop from hurting yourself or someone else.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You think you may be depressed.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.