What is Grief?

What is grief?

‘Grief is a hollowness, an emptiness, a space left vacant by heartache, a black hole. Yet grief is a natural way of helping us through our loss. We need grief, grief is our friend’ Kirstey Lee

Without grief, our feelings would be lifeless, we would not heal. We must remember that grief exists because we have loved and cared deeply. If we do not grieve, we may reach a point of no return which may lead to suicidal thoughts or worse. Grief is very natural, and we all deal with it in our own unique way, there is no right way or wrong way to grieve, it is our way.

There are five stages of grief as outlined below: -

1, The first stage shock and denial – these reveal themselves as physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, weakness, dizziness, and nausea. Our emotions will be of emptiness (put into a colour – it has no colour life feels matt), our anxiety levels will be on high alert, short temperedness rears its head and tears fall like heavy waterfalls.

2, Anger is the second stage, and this is where we feel angry and blame ourselves, we feel like we need to blame someone so that we can feel stronger and in control. This anger and blame can be directed at anyone family, friends or veterinary staff. We may start to act out of character and may go through a period of jealousy towards others especially other pet owners.

3, The third stage is guilt. This is the most powerful feeling that we will experience. It can consume our every thought. We may search for a reason to blame ourselves and may torture ourselves with guilt. Please know that these feelings are natural, but they can be destructive.

4, The fourth stage of grief is depression, this is when your emotions will fluctuate. Your emotions will turn inside out and upside down. The loss of a pet is and can be one of the saddest experiences one may ever have to cope with, and some have said it is more difficult to cope with than the death of a close family member. We may feel stuck and unable to move forward or even want to move forward.

5, Acceptance is the fifth stage. We would have put ourselves under enormous pressure to arrive here. This is when we find it easier to talk about the loss of our fur family member and remember the good times that we shared together. We may still experience periods of great sadness, anger or guilt but will find that we will recover from these periods much quicker focusing more on the positives and happy times. This is when we will learn to cope without our cherished companion, we will still miss him/her greatly, but things will start to feel lighter.

Grief grows from the same seeds as love - one seldom exists without the other. There is no time scale to grief and recovery, it meets us where we are at and supports us in its own special way.

Written by

Kirstey Lee Dip.PBC

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