Losing someone (or something) you love is one of the worst feelings in the world. It might be breaking up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, leaving your hometown/tūrangawaewae or even the death of a loved one. Whatever it is, grief hurts – and that is totally normal. What really sucks is it’s often out of your hands, and you couldn’t do anything about it. That can leave you feeling angry, confused or helpless. You may feel like nothing makes sense, feel like you’re in a bad dream, question your religious beliefs, feel many emotions such as anger, hurt, betrayal, blame, shame/whakamā and disbelief.

For some people this is what grief might look like:

Shock and disbelief – right after a loss, it can be hard to accept what happened. You may feel numb, have trouble believing that the loss really happened, or even deny the truth. If someone you love has died, you may keep expecting them to show up, even though you know they are gone.

Sadness – profound sadness is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. You may have feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness. You may also cry a lot or feel emotionally unstable.

Guilt – you may regret or feel guilty about things you did or didn’t say or do. After a death, you may even feel guilty for not doing something to prevent the death, even if there was nothing more you could have done.

Anger – even if the loss was nobody’s fault, you may feel angry and resentful. If you lost a loved one, you may be angry with yourself, God, the doctors, or even the person who died for abandoning you. You may feel the need to blame someone for the injustice that was done to you.

Fear – a significant loss can trigger a host of worries and fears. You may feel anxious, helpless, or insecure. You may even have panic attacks. The death of a loved one can trigger fears about your own mortality, of facing life without that person, or the responsibilities you now face alone.

Physical symptoms may occur – including fatigue, nausea, lowered immunity, weight loss or weight gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.

When the thing or person you’ve lost is always on your mind, it gets hard concentrating at school, or even just watching a movie. Knowing that you can’t have that special someone or something again can make you feel hopeless.

Everyone deals with it in different ways, and often underestimates just how long it will take to feel better. The grieving process takes time. It can’t be forced or hurried – and there is no 'normal' timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months, for others it's years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold. If it’s been weeks and your feelings are getting in the way of doing things you used to enjoy, then it might be the sign of something more serious. You might want to take this test to see if you show any of the warning signs of depression.

For information on dealing with loss or grief, visit the Skylight site.

Thank you to Le Va for their assistance in developing this information.

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