Signs & Symptoms of Grieving

Cognitive Symptoms: confusion, memory loss, inability to concentrate/focus on simple tasks, inability to make decisions. Errors in judging distances, error in language, errors in the use of numbers, forgetfulness, lack of attention to detail, lack of awareness of external events. Loss of creativity, loss of productivity, mental “blocking” overly attentive to details, past-oriented rather than living in the present moment, thoughts of death, ruminating.

Physical Symptoms: fatigue, prone to accidents/clumsiness, backaches, breathing difficulty, tightness/pressure in the chest, a flare-up of allergies, arthritis, or asthma.  Low energy, Exhaustion, pain, restlessness, insomnia, oversleeping, disturbing dreams, night terrors, loss of appetite, nausea, overeating, indigestion, intestinal disorders such as diarrhea or constipation, excessive weight loss or gain. Migraine headaches, shortness of breath, muscle tightness in the face, back of neck, stomach, thighs, calves, feet, or hands.  Weak/shaky voice, high or low blood pressure, feeling physically “numb”, drop in body temperature, dry mouth, clammy skin, oversensitivity to noise, loss of sex drive, weakened immune system. Pounding/rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, eye pain, eye twitching, teeth grinding, dilated pupils, sexual difficulty, or disinterest, shaking, pale skin, excessive sighing, slowed speech, stomach gas, tearfulness, tension headaches, trembling or twitching, vomiting, weakness, especially in the legs.

Emotional Symptoms: numbness, depression, uncontrollable crying, anxiety, panic attacks, relief, guilt, pervasive, obtrusive thoughts/memories of the “loved one”. Anger, blaming, feelings of helplessness, indifference, angry outbursts, anxiousness, critical of self or others, difficulty in relationships, dread, fearfulness, fear of groups or crowds. Feeling worthless, irritability, jealousy, lack of initiative, loss of interest in living, loss of self-esteem, restlessness, sadness, suspiciousness, withdrawal from relationships, suicidal ideation, or attempts.

Behavioral Symptoms: social avoidance, isolation, change in the usual activities one used to enjoy, “escapism” in the form of excessive alcohol use, drug use, gambling, shopping, sex, etc, avoiding activities/people/places/things that one used to enjoy with the “loved one”.

Normal Reactions in Grief:

Angry at “God” or your own personally recognized “higher power” and unable to find consolation in your faith.

Angry at medical personnel for not doing enough or not having the technology to save your loved one.

Angry at yourself for not properly interpreting the warning signs, statements, etc.

Angry at the deceased for not taking better care of him/herself, leaving you alone, not making the proper financial/legal preparations, angry at the deceased for dying.

Angry at close family members/friends for what they did/did not do during the loved one’s last days.

Unable to sleep without medication or sleeping all the time.

Having a change in eating habits with significant weight gain or loss.

More susceptible to colds, flu, and other physical ailments.

Unable to motivate yourself to do the things you need to do.

Unable to concentrate/remember things.

Feeling more irritable than usual.

Experiencing unpredictable, uncontrollable bouts of crying (ambush grief).

Fearful of being alone or with people; afraid to leave the house; afraid to stay in the house, afraid to sleep in the bed.

Wanting to “punish” something or someone for your pain.

Angry that no one seems to understand what has happened to you; angry that people expect you to “get on with your life”; angry that you are not given the time you need to grieve.

Feeling frustration that friends call too much, or not enough; don’t invite you out anymore; seem to be pushing you into socializing before you are ready.

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Going to several stores instead of just one; buying things you don’t need ad forgetting the things you do need.

Feeling guilty over minor relationship issues which would not usually be a problem.

Experiencing panic/anxiety attacks.

Wanting to talk about the deceased, but are fearful of “burdening’ friends or family.

Wearing clothing, jewelry, or other personal items of the deceased.

Feeling the loneliness and “aloneness” are more than you can tolerate.

Noticing an increase in the use of alcohol, prescription drugs, or street drugs to help you cope.

Driving the car too fast and recklessly.

Road rage

Wanting to sell the house and move; wanting to give away all the possessions of the deceased; turning a portion of the home into a shrine (i.e.- not changing anything in the room after the death, etc.).

Going out “looking for a fight”.

Squabbles with family members or close friends of the deceased

Screaming for no particular reason.

Angry/jealous that people can still laugh, that the world goes on, that holidays are not canceled, that you seem so alone in your grief.

Feeling a desire to be with people who did not know the deceased thereby giving you the opportunity to share memories with unbiased listeners.

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