Grief and loss

A personal loss, large or small, may bring an experience of grief. People have their own individual reaction and response to grief. Yet grief is a universal human experience. Grief is part of life. Understanding the unique ways in which people experience grief can be helpful for both grieving people and those supporting them.

Experiences which lead to loss and grief include:

  • death
  • separation, divorce, relationship breakdown
  • loss of family unit, children leaving home
  • adoption/Relinquishment of Children
  • unemployment, retrenchment, retirement
  • loss of role, status
  • loss of health, amputation, removal of an organ
  • loss of homeland, culture, language
  • loss of a pet
  • loss of possessions, burglary, car theft
  • loss of freedom
  • disability
  • loss of youth, body image
  • infertility, stillbirth, miscarriage, abortion
  • missing person
  • loss of dreams, hopes, expectations
  • caring for someone with a chronic or life threatening disease
  • moving house, state, country

What are the signs?

Grief and loss is a personal experience and it differs from person to person. Many people believe they are alone in their experience and will withdraw socially and from pleasurable activities. Grief and loss is commonly experienced as a depressive episode. Anniversaries and other dates are often times of great despair for a person experiencing grief and loss.

What are the causes?

Grief can be around anything personal and special to the individual. The main cause of grief tends to be death and relationship breakdowns. Grief has no set pattern or order, the depth and duration of each episode is different for everyone.

How is grief and loss treated?

Therapy can be used to work through the pain of the loss, adjust to the new environment and to develop new skills in life.

Source of information: National Association for Grief and Loss 

Better Health Channel

The Better Health Channel website was founded in 1999 by the Victorian Department of Human Services, Australia as a consumer health information website. The site's aim has always been to provide free health and medical information in an easy to understand format and language. Attached is a link to their information pages about grief and loss in it's many forms.

A fact sheet about grief and loss by Reach Out!

Reach Out!'s information page about grief and loss includes specific fact sheets on death, looking after someone with a life-threatening illness, managing anniversaries and working through grief.

The National Association for Loss & Grief (NALAG)

NALAG is a not-for-profit organisation whose objective is to encourage and promote professional and community education in loss, grief, bereavement and trauma. Below is a link to their site providing information about grief and loss.

Grief and loss comes in many forms and knowing how to support someone experiencing grief can be difficult.  The following provides some tips on supporting someone who has lost a partner, friend or family member. These tips can also be aplied to other forms of grief or loss.

When someone dies, it affects many people. It may be the family and friends of the person who has died that feel the loss the most. However, even if you don't know the deceased person well you may still be sad or feel a sense of loss. It is a good idea to have someone you trust to talk to about how you are feeling. This may be a friend, family member or someone like a teacher or counsellor.

When one of your friends is close to someone who has died it may be tough for you to know how to help them or decide what to say. It is okay to feel unsure about how you can help them. Below are some tips.

  • Let them know you care.
  • Knowing what to say. Knowing what to say be hard. It is OK to be honest and let your friend know that you you're not sure what to say. You may want to start by asking if there is anything you can do.
  • Staying in touch - Keeping in contact can be a way of letting your friend know that you are available if they need you.
  • Be understanding
  • Listening - In time your friend may want to talk about the person they have lost. This is often a sign they are managing their grief. Giving them the chance to talk may be helpful for them.
  • It is ok to cry and grieve - It may be hard to see someone you care about upset and crying. It is OK to cry, and it is often a good way to express sadness and may help them to feel better.
  • Look after yourself - It may be exhausting for you to share a loss. Taking time out for yourself is important.
  • Finding help and information - Finding information about grief and loss may help your friend. You may be able to help them find someone like a counsellor to talk to. Your local phone book should have information about the counsellors in your local area or contact the helplines listed against this topic on this site.

Reach Out!'s information page and fact sheets on grief and loss

The Reachout Foundation provides a number of fact sheets to aid people through helping those experiencing grief and loss. 

Black Dog Institute

An educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility in NSW offering specialist expertise in mood disorders including depression and bipolar disorder.

Reach Out!

An initiative of the Inspire Foundation, Reach Out! is a web based service that provides information, support and interactive features to help young people get through tough times.

The National Association for Loss & Grief (NALAG)

NALAG is a not-for-profit organisation whose objective is to encourage and promote professional and community education in loss, grief, bereavement and trauma. Below is a link to their site providing information about grief and loss.

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