Grief is a natural reaction to the loss of someone that we care about. It is important to remember that there is no set way to grieve, and that it is perfectly normal to experience emotions that you weren’t necessarily expecting. While we all experience grief in our own individual ways, some common experiences of grief include feelings of anger, sadness, anxious feelings, numbness, feeling overwhelmed, or even feeling relieved (especially when the one we have lost was experiencing pain or discomfort).
Sometimes grief can affect how we feel physically. You may notice that you’re feeling nauseous or have lost your appetite. You may also notice that your sleep is disrupted, or you experience more headaches than usual. If you are experiencing problems with sleep or appetite, and they persist, then it may be a good idea to have a check-up with your GP.
Some people who experience the loss of a pet have a partner or family members around them who are also grieving. Despite this you can still feel very isolated and alone in your grief. This too is normal. People have their own ways of grieving, and it’s important to respect each other’s grief process, and to comfort and give each other space as needed. It’s also important to try and share how you’re feeling, even if you feel people won’t understand. Support groups and forums can be very helpful in this sense.
Remember that there is no time limit for how long your grief process should take. Each person is different, and if you find yourself struggling months or years later, it is okay to speak up and let your GP know.
When it Becomes Something More – Depression
Grief and depression can look very similar sometimes. However, the difference is that depression is more persistent in nature, whereas grief often begins to improve over time. If you find that your feelings are not improving over time, are impacting your day to day life, or if you feel like you are finding day to day life a struggle as time passes, it is important to seek help from your GP or a psychologist.
This educational series is part of a Client Support Program proudly delivered in partnership with Sunset Veterinary Care.
For more information on veterinary palliative care visit www.sunsetvets.com.au.
UQ Psychology Clinic
Dr Leander Mitchell DPsych (ClinNeuro&ClinPsy), PhD, MAPS
CRICOS PROVIDER NUMBER 00025B