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Grief in the Workplace

Stages of Grief

Within the first few weeks to months after a death or loss, you may find yourself riding on a roller coaster of shifting emotions. Grief can involve physical, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral responses. Most people go through these stages not in progressive steps, but in unpredictable waves-- moving through one stage to the next and sometimes shifting back. Some people will also experience certain phases but not others. Everyone grieves differently, but here are several common, typical grief reactions:

Grief in the WorkplaceSHOCK/DISBELIEF
This is the numbing, disorienting sense that the death has not really happened, not really occurred. This reaction can be intensified and complicated if the death is sudden, violent, or unanticipated. Your mind may be telling you "there must be some mistake," or "this can't be true." These symptoms typically last from several hours to several days but can be prolonged.

ANGER
Your anger may be targeted at a number of sources. You may feel waves of anger at the doctors who treated your loved one, anger at your family members for not rallying together, anger at God over what seems senseless or unjust, even anger at yourself or the person who died and "left" you.

GUILT
You may blame yourself for not doing more, not being there enough, or not being there when the death happened. You may feel regret over "unfinished business" -- conflicts you and the deceased never resolved, or feelings between the two of you that were never fully discussed or shared.

SADNESS
You may experience a deep sense of loss. There may be moments when you find yourself at a loss for words, weeping, or bursting uncontrollably into tears.

FEAR
There may be anxiety or panic; fears about carrying on, fears about the future. If the person who died was an adult (partner, sibling, parent), it may bring up fears about your own sense of mortality or sense of being left behind.

DEPRESSION
You may go through periods of melancholy where you feel inclined to withdraw or isolate yourself. You may lose interest in your usual activities, or feel helpless or hopeless.

In addition to these stages, people who are grieving frequently experience physical symptoms, such as fatigue, sleep disruption, appetite changes, increased tension and numerous aches and pains. Grief can also affect you on a psychological level. Some of these common signs include feeling distracted, forgetful, irritable, disoriented, or confused.

What You Need During Grief >>