Feb 2024
The Grieving Game

The grieving game…


How grief affects you can depend on how close you felt to the person who died. It can also depend on the role the person had in your life. If it was a grandparent that you did not see very often then you may be sad have a cry but be able to get back into the rhythm of your life quite well. If it was your mum who you were really close to well into your adult years then the loss can be profound and deep. I remember working with a woman who was in her 60s and her mother died. The staff where I was working just could not understand that she needed so much time off work , as if the fact that her mum was in her 80s meant she should “ get over it quicker “. I remember feeling quite annoyed and taken aback by that ! Everyone’s grief is unique, and its shape is contingent upon context .

If the person dies suddenly this has a massive impact much more than a grief that extends over time for example someone who has a terminal illness or dementia . Dying suddenly by violence or suicide can have  a very different feel and flavour to one where say the person dies in a  freak accident . All are horrific and I hate this for anyone but if there is a suicide or violence there can be a huge amount of anger and fury as well as pain. This can make the processing of the pain more complicated and difficult.

There are stages of grief as I have mentioned in my previous blog “Loving after life ‘but the grieved  may not feel them immediately or at all. Some people don’t feel  the impact of losing the person straight away . They may feel numbness, shock, or disbelief. It can take time for it to sink in that the person is gone, especially if its sudden and unexpected.

Grief affects your feelings.

There are so many emotions and feelings that wash through you when you grieve, and this may change multiple times over the course of a day. Every day can be different . At times, you might feel sadness, anger, anxiety, guilt, or despair. At other times, you might feel relief, love, gratitude, tenderness, or hope. This may feel as if it’s happening to you, and you have no control over the direction of your feelings on any given day.

  • Creating an awareness of when your feelings appear and how they feel will help you adjust to their presence and accept them for being there rather than trying to change your feelings or distract yourself . It can help to share how you feel with someone you trust. It can also help to notice any good things that happen during times of sadness and loss — even the little things. This acknowledgment can be a way to see hope that you will eventually get better and feel better even though right now the pain is intense and endless.

Grief affects your thoughts.

You will for a time perhaps ruminate on your relationship with your loved one, what you remember conversations you had with them, times you had with them both good and bad and think about things you said or should have said or done . You will ponder on your life without them moving forward ,what you will miss and what you have lost .

Notice how these thoughts come and go and perhaps share them with someone you can trust .

You can write a letter to your loved you ,telling them how much they meant to you, thank them for being in your life  or what you wished you had said to them . You can  journal how you feel.

Grief affects your body.

Grief can affect your appetite or sleep.



You might feel tired and have less energy than usual. Or you might feel more restless. I remember being unable to do anything but simultaneously being unable to sit down read a book or do anything constructive or relaxing !  The restlessness in fact was worse than the over sleeping and crying spells.  . I would sleep early but wake up super early and not know what to do with my body. The feeling was horrendous. It went on for weeks .

You might feel a “heaviness” in your chest, a “tightness” in your throat, or a “pit” in your stomach. When I was grieving I felt like I had this very heavy handbag I was carrying around and I had nowhere to put it , this then morphed, and it became  a dense mass over the top of my head that would not clear for two years. I was only 24 at the time and I think that it also heralded the maturing of my emotional brain. I felt older, different, wiser, and even had a sense that my body had grown a new skin, like a shedding of an old naïve and innocent self.

Losing a loved one can be stressful. And stress can have some temporary effects on your body. I had a client who said that too much noise and sensory stimuli at school and the shopping centre would see him start to hyperventilate ,  feel scared , have sweaty palms and a tightness in his chest . He  had never before experienced anything like this before he lost his loved one.

It’s important to be aware of how grief affects your body. Try to get the rest, food, and exercise that you need. It can help to try practices like mindful breathing.

Grief can lead you to ask some very big questions.

We may start to ask some existential questions about life the universe and everything !

Many people wonder, “Why did this happen?” “What happens to people when they die?” and “How can I cope?” “ What is the point of living if we all die eventually ?”

Some people question their religious beliefs. Some find strength in their faith. Some discover spiritual connections. Some become closer to other people in their life. It can be time of reflections and  new insights into what is important and where your life is going . You may find new value and meaning to your life.

How Long Does Grief Last?

There’s no set timeline for grief. It’s OK to feel grief for weeks, months, or much longer. You never stop grieving if the loss was profoundly significant, but you do learn to integrate the loss into your life and maintain relationship with the deceased person in different way My grief took two years. It was compounded by previous losses so even though this one relationship had not been for a very long time, combined with my other losses it became quite significant for me . I caught myself singing as I was getting into my car one day , and I knew I was better, and the depression had lifted. The clod dark mass over my head had dissipated.

Often, in the first few days or weeks after someone dies, people gather to comfort and support each other. They have funerals or memorial services. They spend time together talking and sharing memories about their loved one. They might bring food, send cards, or stop by to visit.

When people go back to normal activities, they might think they should be over their grief. But for a while, they may find that their work is just going through the motions and their heart and soul is not in it. People may think they are ‘ over it ‘  when they appear “ normal “ but they are just learning a new way of being without that loved one.

Grief changes — and feels less intense — as time goes on. Many people say they feel grief in “waves” that come and go. I used to get a “ build up “ the pain would build like a wave and then it would have to crash, and I would weep with my whole body until I was spent. Then it would be followed by a time of stillness and calm almost like you are in  a drugged peace. It’s such a wonderful spot to be in as you can feel quite safe and serene . It doesn’t last long though and the build-up continues and breaks. The great thing is that the periods between the crash of those  waves gets longer . Eventually it stops .

At times, reminders of a loved one  particularly  out of the blue can cause a strong wave of grief . you can often feel as if you are going backward in your recovery. At other times, grief fades to the background of your normal activities and may not be on your mind all the time.

When Will I Start to Feel Better?




If someone you love has died, it’s natural to keep having feelings and questions for a while. It’s also natural to begin to feel a bit better. Feeling better usually happens gradually.

How much grief you feel — or how long it lasts — isn’t a measure of how much you loved the person. Feeling better doesn’t mean forgetting your loved one or getting over them.

As your grief fades, you may come to realize that the person you love remains with you — in your heart, in your thoughts and memories, and in the positive effect they had on your life.

Teen grief and loss can differ from adult grief in several ways due to the developmental stage and unique challenges teens face. Erikson developed a theory of   8 stages of psychosocial development . He saw stage 5 in human development as the adolescent period. This span is from  approximately 12 -17  a  time of huge change and can be when individuals can be at their most vulnerable , impressionable, and sensitive to their environment. It’s when they grapple with their self-identity versus role confusion or who they are in the world and what they want to become .

During this stage, adolescents explore their independence and develop a sense of self. So grieving teens are also navigating the complexities of identity formation it’s a lot to contend with The loss can impact their sense of self and their place in the world, potentially leading to identity crises or changes in behaviour. Grief can interfere with the typical developmental tasks of adolescence, such as establishing independence from parents and forming intimate relationships.


Here are some key differences:

Emotional Expression: Teens may express grief differently than adults. They might alternate between periods of intense emotion and times when they seem unaffected, which can be confusing for adults.

Cognitive Understanding: Teens might have a less developed understanding of death and its permanence compared to adults. They may struggle to grasp the finality of the loss.

Peer Relationships: Teens often rely heavily on peer relationships for support. If they feel misunderstood or unsupported by their peers, it can compound their grief. Some may not want to talk to their friends about it at all , fearing that they will bring the mood down in the room and their friends may feel burdened by them.

Risk-Taking Behaviours: Some grieving teens may engage in risky behaviours as a way to cope with their emotions or to feel a sense of control.

School and Academics: Grief can impact teens’ ability to concentrate and perform well in school. They may also experience changes in behaviour, such as withdrawal or acting out. The energy and focus that goes into schoolwork may be taken up with grieving , it can leave the body depleted and unable to engage . It’s important that teachers and parents give teens room , to cope. Adjusting their workload and giving them more time to complete task is part of that support.

It’s important for adults to be aware of these differences and provide support that is sensitive to the unique needs of grieving teens. Giving them the time and space to grieve on their own terms is imperative for integration of the loss into their lives, so that they may move forward with a healthy sense of purpose and place in the world with out the loved one being physically present but still successfully holding a place in their heart and soul.