Grief is a reaction to any form of loss. While it is a universal experience, responses to it vary from person to person, depending on a range of factors such as one’s relationship with the beloved, and the meaning one attaches to them.
Here are some common reactions that you and your other family members may experience while experiencing grief.
Physical/ Body reactions
Loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, energy loss, exhaustion, complaints of a ‘hollow’ stomach, tightened chest, constricted throat, breathlessness; hyper-sensitivity to sight/smell/sound, physical complaints similar to deceased, lowered immunity.
Preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased, sensing the presence of the deceased, disbelief, a feeling of unreality, helplessness, hopelessness, difficulty with memory and concentration, absent-mindedness, disorganised thoughts.
Coping With Grief
- Get enough rest and sleep: If you cannot sleep well at night, take naps, have some quiet time, and read a book or listen to music.
- Carry on with your usual activities as much as possible. They will keep you occupied and engaged during this period of grief.
- Surround yourself with loved ones. Share memories about the deceased. Do not be afraid to laugh at funny moments that you have shared.
- Avoid quick fixes. It may be tempting to use alcohol, over-eating, or other unhelpful coping mechanisms as a method of dealing with grief. Although they may seem to help for a short while, they will actually make life more difficult in the long term.
- Try to be open to accept support from others.
- Take comfort in a support group or in your faith. Attending support group sessions can help you communicate with others in the same situation. Prayer and meditation can help you feel better.
- Get creative. Write a poem or create a painting to express your feelings. You may be able to cope with your loss in a healthier way.
- Rediscover or participate in activities on your own or with a group.
- Find time to review your finances. If, like some caregivers, you have left a paid job role to provide care, you may feel uncertain about re-entering the workforce. Here are some initiatives available to assist you in this transition.
- Workforce Singapore helps Singaporeans in job seeking and explore new career opportunities. Find out more.
- SkillsFuture is a national movement to provide persons with the opportunities to develop their potential through skills mastery and lifelong learning.
- E2i’s Career Trial is part of the suite of career services to strengthen the employability of Singaporeans, through a short-term stint with an employer.
Know When to Get Professional Help
There is no specific timeline to grief. Many people find themselves coping better over time.
If your grief reactions continue to be very intense and frequent to the extent that your health, personal care, daily function, work or school performances and relationships are affected, you may be experiencing depression. When this happens, consider seeking professional help from a medical doctor, a psychologist, or a counsellor.
You may also use the self-assessment tool on Mindline.sg to check your emotional well-being.
Where to Seek Help
You can approach your nearby general practitioners (doctors) or polyclinic doctors for help. You may also look for counsellors specialising in grief, loss and depression. Here are some available help and resources:
1. A list of counselling and psychotherapist practices specialising in grief, loss, and depression on the Singapore Association of Counselling’s website.
2. Caring for yourself and Others by Singapore Hospice Council on coping with bereavement.
4. Coping with bereavement by Institute of Mental Health.