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Grief is something that affects everyone. This is because grief is a natural reaction to losing something that means a lot to us. As long as we have something or someone we love, we will sooner or later be affected by grief. 

Photo: by Lachlan Thompson on Unsplash


What is a grief reaction?

Grief reactions are natural when we lose something or someone that means a lot to us. In some cases, the grief reaction may be difficult to cope on your own, and it may be necessary to seek help. writes:

A grief reaction is a mental reaction where a person can feel sadness, despair, fear and anger. Grief is often closely linked to feelings of loss. This can be, for example, the loss of a spouse, friends or work, but it can also be the loss of one's own health, such as in the event of a serious illness, or the loss of personal security, such as having been subjected to acts of violence and abuse.

The extent of a grief reaction will vary, and will depend on the size and severity of the triggering cause, as well as on our personal characteristics. In this way, our personality, our resources and our previous experiences will lay a foundation for how we will react to a trauma or loss of something that is important to us. In addition, the resources available to us in our network will be important for the development of a grief reaction.


Common phases of grief further writes that it is common to operate with four phases of grief:


  1. The shock phase. In this phase, one tries to understand what has happened and to let it sink in. It is common to struggle to acknowledge that what has actually happened is the case.
  2. The reaction phase. In this phase, crying, sadness, protest ("it is not true") or anger are common. You react emotionally to what has happened and the reactions can be strong. 
  3. The repair phase. You gradually move into a phase where reactions are put into perspective and it begins to dawn on you what has happened.  
  4. The reorientation phase. In this phase, life begins to fall back into place again and one masters to see more ahead.

Not everyone goes through all these phases. How one experiences the phases is also individual, and it is common to go back and forth between them.


How to help someone who is grieving writes:

It is common to feel helpless in the face of a grieving person. Words can feel empty and meaningless. But it is usually not necessary with so many words or to be so advanced. The most important thing is to have time to listen, and often eye contact and a handshake are enough.

One who mourns seldom has the strength to ask others for help, even if he needs it. Offers of practical help are often welcome, and a great way to show care.

It is important to show generosity and patience to someone who is grieving, and for example not to take rejections so seriously. Do not push yourself with words, just be present and feel free to offer help repeatedly - and over time.


Advice for processing grief also provides the following advice for processing grief:


  1. It is important to allow yourself to feel what you are feeling and be prepared for the fact that your feelings will change. Remember that it is not a decision for what the right reactions are, this is completely individual.
  2. Make sure you get enough nutrition and sleep, even if everything feels indifferent.
  3. It can be good to cry, and it is often good to have someone to cry with.
  4. Allow yourself to spend time thinking about the deceased and the moments you had together. Feel free to talk to others who were close to the person who has died, or who have lost a loved one.
  5. When grief becomes particularly heavy, it is important to contact someone you can talk to. There may be people you trust in the local community or in the support system.
  6. It can be good to try to get back to routines and normal life. Go to school, work, participate in leisure activities and be with friends. Then you avoid being stuck with the heavy thoughts all the time.
  7. It is allowed to be angry and upset, and you may want to get it out, either by talking to someone, writing a diary or by exercising.
  8. It is allowed to laugh. Even if you, and others around you, are sad, it is important to take a break from grief. It is allowed to have fun with your friends even if you are sad - without having a bad conscience for it.
  9. Many people find it a support and great comfort to meet others who are in the same situation. In several places in the country, there are offers for discussion groups for mourners. Contact a doctor, health and care services or a ward and ask if there are grief groups nearby.
  10. If you feel guilty about something that has been or should have been said while the deceased was still alive, it may be a good idea to talk to a confidant so that you are not alone in these thoughts.
  11. It is especially important to seek help if the grief negatively affects daily life over a long period of time, or you do not experience any relief or variation in the heavy emotions.


What is complicated grief? writes:

There are various forms of complicated grief, the most common being grief that does not go away, called both prolonged grief and chronic grief. Usually, complicated grief reflects that the grief has an intensity and duration that goes far beyond normal grief reactions.

In addition to the fact that the diagnosis cannot be made until after six months with the ailments summarized above, the ailments must cause a clinically important impairment of social functioning or impairment in other important functional areas. The disorder should also not be (better) accounted for through other diagnoses such as severe depression, generalized anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

They also add:

Although it can be difficult to distinguish normal grief from complicated grief, there is no doubt that many people struggle for a very long time with reactions for which it is possible to get help. It is estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of all survivors, regardless of the cause of death, develop complicated grief reactions of an extended type.

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