Chapter 1: An introduction to grief

How grief may affect you

The grief expert says
Chris MacKinnon, psychologist, speaks about how there is no blueprint for grief or how we respond to loss (3:22)Video transcript

When he died, my heart broke into a million little pieces. It’s back together now but the scars will always be there.

I remember leaving the hospital after they died, and I actually couldn’t believe the sun was still shining.

Ways grief may affect you

Grief affects your emotions, your thinking, and your behaviour. It can also affect how your body feels. Click on each of the boxes below to see some of the ways grief may affect you.

At times, your grief may be felt as a physical sensation, such as a stomach ache, a headache, or shortness of breath.

You may have:

  • Conflicting feelings, such as sadness and relief.
  • Intense feelings that might surprise or shock you.
  • Unpredictable feelings – Feeling you’re doing “okay” and then suddenly feeling knocked over by a wave of emotion.
  • Feelings of isolation – Even if you have people who care about you close by, you might still feel lonely.

Grief can interfere with thinking, making you more forgetful or affecting your ability to concentrate.

You may notice changes in your behaviour, such as not doing things you used to enjoy or avoiding friends.

Your beliefs may change, such as your faith or your trust in the future.

Grief often changes you, and it changes over time. After a while it may take up less energy. This doesn’t mean forgetting the person who died. You can carry their memory forward, remembering all aspects of who they were – what you found most challenging, what you cherished most, or both. You can continue to have relationships in a different way with the people who are important to you, even though they’re no longer physically present.