Understanding and living through grief

Duration: 3:58


Grief is a natural and personal reaction that results from the loss of a loved one. It is mainly characterized by pain and sadness.

When one or more employees are grieving, the entire workplace suffers.

There are several myths surrounding grief. For example:

  • The pain will disappear more quickly if ignored
  • Returning to normal life necessitates forgetting the loved one
  • Family and friends can help by avoiding the topic
  • Not crying means we are insensitive
  • Grief should last one year, and its stages are fixed

This conventional wisdom is false and can prevent individuals from experiencing their grief in a healthy way.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, grieving is usually experienced in three stages:

  • Numbness or shock
  • Disorganization
  • Re-organization

Other researchers mention 5 or 6 stages, sometimes more. In any case, grieving people can move back and forth between stages several times. The average length of a grieving process is 18 months, but it is essential to know that this can vary depending on the individual and the kind of grief.

Psychological symptoms associated with the loss of a loved one include shock, disbelief, sadness, guilt, anger and fear.

Physical manifestations often include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • A weakened immune system
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Pain
  • Insomnia

Healthy coping is when individuals give themselves the opportunity to grieve without losing sight of their responsibilities. They accept the pain and sorrow, let the grieving process take its course and know where to find support.

It is actually desirable that the grieving individuals share their emotions and seek additional help from support groups or specialized counsellors when the need arises.

However, some individuals do not have the necessary coping or support mechanisms to live through grief in a healthy way. Such a situation can cause mental blocking, worsen the symptoms associated with the loss and significantly alter normal functioning.

It is therefore important to watch for signs suggesting self-destructive pain, such as:

  • Physical change
  • Substance abuse
  • Social isolation
  • Uncontrollable emotions

When the pain is such that it keeps the person from resuming his or her normal life, it could signal a case of pathological mourning or major depression.

Medical or psychological treatment then becomes necessary.

To find out more about this topic, we suggest you read the reference document.

In case of any questions, doubts or a specific need for support, don’t hesitate to contact the specialized support service offered to the eligible individuals.