Understanding Grief

A grieving man sitting on steps, being comforted by a friend

The concept of understanding grief can seem contradictory – after all, every person’s journey through grief is uniquely shaped by a person’s background, experiences, and relationships. However, despite its individual nature, there are common threads that can unify the experience of grief.

In this blog, we’ll explore the various facets of grieving while acknowledging its unpredictability. We’ll also provide resources to support you or your loved ones while they grieve.

What is Grief?

Grief is the profound experience following loss. Though it’s often associated with death, loss doesn’t always mean death. Loss can refer to many experiences, including losing one’s sense of self, health, usual routines, or personal connections, as well as the ending of important relationships, careers, or stages in life. 

The intensity and duration of grief can differ significantly among individuals. It’s a natural and inevitable part of life, and while it can be incredibly painful, it’s also a testament to the depth of our connections and the value we place on them.

What Are The Five Stages Of Grief?

Grief is often spoken about within the context of the five stages of grief. And while they help provide context for grief as a whole, they aren’t a set of rules that grief follows. Below is a brief overview in the typical order it presents:


The denial stage encompasses denying or struggling to accept the reality of the loss. Typically, people experience feelings and states such as shock, disbelief, numbness, and a refusal to accept the loss.

Example: “This can’t be happening. There must be some mistake.”


The anger stage involves expressing frustration both internally and externally following the loss. Commonly, individuals grapple with feelings such as frustration, irritation, anxiety, and a strong belief that the loss is unjust and unfair.

Example: “Why did this have to happen? It’s not fair.”


The bargaining stage includes efforts to negotiate or alter the reality of the loss through various “what if” scenarios. It’s typical for people to experience feelings of guilt and remorse during this phase.

Example: “If only I had been there, I could have done something.”


The depression stage is characterized by deep sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness due to the loss. Individuals often report experiencing profound sadness, isolation, despair, and generally feeling overwhelmed. 

Example: “Everything feels empty and meaningless – how can I possibly go on without them?”


In the acceptance stage, individuals begin to acknowledge and reconcile with the reality of their loss. This phase is marked by feelings of recognition and a gradual return to a state of balance.

Example: “I will survive this and keep going.”

How Does Grief Manifest?

Grief can manifest in various ways. In addition to experiencing a wide range of emotions, some might experience behavioral changes, withdrawing from social interactions or abandoning hobbies and routines they once enjoyed. Physically, some may experience symptoms like fatigue, nausea, weight loss or gain, insomnia, and other health complications. Additionally, grief can have cognitive effects, causing difficulty concentrating, persistent thoughts about the loss, or vivid dreams.

How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving

Like most grief-related things, the best way to help someone highly depends on the person (and their age).

Supporting someone who is grieving requires empathy, patience, and a willingness to be present without offering solutions. It is important to understand that grief is a deeply personal experience, and everyone navigates it differently.

While practical assistance like helping with housework and providing meals can be helpful, the most valuable thing you can offer is your presence and a listening ear. Acknowledge their loss, let them express their feelings without judgment, and remind them that they are not alone in this journey.

Most importantly, continue to check in on them long after the initial shock has passed; remember, grief doesn’t have a set timeline, and the path to healing can be long and unpredictable.

Meeting Grief With Empathy

Many people who are grieving can be especially hard on themselves. Some continue to blame themselves for events outside of their (or anyone’s) control. Some hold themselves to strict standards of how they “should” feel and act or where they “should” be in their healing journey.

If you are suffering from a loss, it’s crucial to meet yourself with empathy, and to remember that healing is not linear. Think of how you would help a friend going through a similar situation – you would never tell them to put on a brave face or push past their pain. You’d sit with them, listen, and give them kindness and empathy. Treat yourself like a friend; your healing process isn’t hindered by respecting your own emotions.

Faith-Based Counseling For Grief and Loss

At the end of the day, grief doesn’t discriminate; it just is.

While the intensity of grief may lessen over time, there’s no way of knowing how we will feel or react until the moment comes. This universal experience of grief is something everyone faces in their own unique way. At Spiritual Care Support Ministries, we understand how overwhelming and unpredictable grief can be. Our faith-based counseling is non-denominational, and we meet each individual with listening ears, empathy, and support. Whether you’re helping someone navigate their grief or are navigating your own, we offer support groups, one-on-one counseling, and helpful materials to anyone who may need it. For more information about our resources and services, please fill out our email form or call us at 540-349-5814.

Questions & Comments

If you would like to ask questions or have comments regarding this blog post,
please feel free to call me at 540-349-5814 or email me at chaplainliz@scsm.tv