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Coping With Loss & Grief


Every one of us has experienced losing someone we love in our lives. It may be one of the worst experiences that we had to face. You may go through various unpleasant emotions and sensations. This response to loss is termed grief, and is normal and healthy response to bereavement. Each individual will grief differently. Your response is influenced by:

  • How the person died-sudden, after a long illness, etc.
  • How close your relationship is to the person.
  • Your coping skills and personality.
  • Your life experiences.
  • The support available to you.

Signs and symptom

Most experts said that we all go through 3 main stages of grief:

  • Shock-lasting few minutes or days.
    • You often react with numb and disbelief, where you may have difficulties with functioning at work or making decisions.
  • Suffering-lasting through few weeks to months.
    • Several emotions such as anxiety, anger or depression; physical symptoms such as sleeplessness, loss of appetite and behavior problems such as mood swings, poor concentration may be experienced.
  • Recovery
    • You are able to move on with your life in spite of your loss.

There is no fixed timetable for grieving For children, grief reaction may present as behavioral problems such as withdrawn, disobedient, clinging and refusal to go to school


Sometimes the period of grief may be prolonged or unresolved, which may further affect functional and social relationship. About 1 in 5 persons may have grief complicated with depression. Those who are at risk are people with history of depression and poor social support. Symptoms that are suggestive of an underlying depression are:

  • Feeling of guilt
  • Slowing of movements or thoughts
  • Recurring suicide thoughts
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Inability to function at work
  • Loss of pleasure in activities which you used to enjoy
  • Hallucinations-mainly of the lost one


Having the support of other people is the most important factor in helping you heal from your loss. Support can be from friends, family members, your religious community, support groups or professional counselors. It is important that you do not grieve alone. If you developed major depression on top of your grief, then you may benefit from grief therapy from a professional counselor and medication treatment. For a grieving child, talk to them about death and the person that died in the terms that they can understand. Spend extra time with them to work through their feelings.


In order to prevent grief from being prolonged or complicated, you should undertake these steps:

  • Express your feelings towards your loved ones.
  • Living a healthy lifestyle-keep away from substance use.
  • Grieve in whatever ways you find comfortable. Do not let other people tell you how you feel, and don’t tell yourself how you should feel.
  • Plan ahead-especially when it comes to activities or events that you used to celebrate together.

Support groups



Last Reviewed : 20 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Suraya binti Yusoff
Reviewer : Dr. Nor’Izam binti Md Alias