A note from Kelly King: In last Friday’s article, Kaye Hurta discussed ways our bodies respond to grief. This week she looks at common ways we respond to grief through our emotions. If you’re going through a time of loss—whether it’s a death, separation, or life circumstance, you will likely relate to today’s article. If you aren’t personally experiencing grief, chances are high that someone in your life is. I encourage you to read today’s article and be aware of these signs.
If you are grieving a loss, you may be wondering, “Will I get through this, and why do I feel the way I feel? Is this normal?” The choices you make through the grieving process will determine the answers to those questions. Grieving is hard work. Following a loss, grieving is to the emotional system what healing is to the physical system after surgery.
Because we are created as body, soul, and spirit, we can expect our entire person to experience the effects of loss. In a previous article we addressed the body’s physical responses to loss. Today we will highlight seven common emotional responses to loss.
If you feel like you are on an emotional rollercoaster, this is normal. Imagine being on a roller coaster at a theme park. You white knuckle and scream your way through ups, downs, drops, twists, turns, going forward, and going backward. Perhaps you are feeling fear and joy together along with laughter and tears. This is the emotional rollercoaster of the grieving process.
It would be impossible to list every emotional response to grief. However, here are seven of the more common emotional responses:
- Shock. This is both a physical and emotional response. Your emotions respond early on with feelings of numbness and disbelief, making it difficult to focus or concentrate.
- Sadness. No explanation needed.
- Anger. Anger is a complicated emotion when it comes to loss and grieving, and it is often followed by…
- Guilt. Quite often guilt’s emotional partner is shame. It is most helpful to process anger, guilt, and shame surrounding loss with a professional counselor.
- Loneliness. You can experience loneliness on many levels and in response to many kinds of loss.
- Despair. Where sadness ebbs and flows throughout the day, despair moves in and takes up residence. Despair is a state in which all hope is abandoned. It is that feeling that everything is wrong and nothing will ever turn out well again. Feelings of despair are best unpacked with a counselor.
- Depression. I can’t think of one woman I know who hasn’t experienced depression on some level. Depression is multi-layered and its treatment is as well. If you are unable to function normally throughout your day due to depression, if you have isolated yourself for many days, or if you are having thoughts to harm yourself, please seek professional help today! The number for the National Suicide Hotline is: 1-800-273-8255.
It is important to remember that everyone grieves differently. For this reason, give your fellow “grievers” space and grace. Space to follow the path through loss at their own pace and grace for the missteps along the way. It is also important to mention that while everything is normal, not everything is helpful. If you are using drugs, alcohol, inappropriate relationships, or pornography to numb, escape, or avoid your pain, please make a call for help today. There is help, and there is hope.
If you are in pain and grieving a loss, I am so sorry. As I write these words, I am praying for you.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.