HIV POSITIVE  Caretakers
Coping With A Loss

Reactions to Grief

There are many emotions that grieving people experience. Some may be strange, unwelcome, or may make you feel as if you're going crazy.

Emotions can include:

  • numbness and lack of feeling;

  • shock and disbelief;

  • yearning for the person who died -- searching for or expecting the person to return;

  • panic, anxiety, tenseness;

  • anger and guilt -- even at the person for dying or at yourself for not having done enough.

  • sadness, depression, hopelessness, despair;

  • helplessness, dependency, vulnerability;

  • not caring about yourself;

  • irritability;

  • sense of relief when the person dies after a period of illness, followed by guilt;

  • loss of liveliness and spontaneity;

  • isolation.

In addition to these various emotional reactions, people tend to experience changes in their mental and physical conditions.

Common mental changes include:

  • sense of unreality;

  • confusion;

  • difficulty concentrating;

  • difficulty making decisions;

  • preoccupation with the person who died and obsessively reviewing the dying process;

  • thinking about suicide;

  • humorlessness;

  • sense of being unconnected, of being "in your own world."

    The physical effects people can experience include:

  • sleep problems;

  • loss or change of appetite;

  • fatigue, lack of energy;

  • restlessness;

  • stomach distress;

  • heightened sensitivity to pain;

  • headaches;

  • crying, tearfulness;

  • weight gain/loss;

  • increase/decrease in sexual desire or energy.

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