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Grief is a normal experience that is your body’s way of dealing with loss in your life. When loss is caused by death, grief is expected and often accepted. Other losses in life can also cause a profound grieving process that sometimes is less easily understood. Losing possessions in a fire or by theft, losing a pet, loss of safety and trust through trauma, the end of a relationship, moving, divorce--all of these things can be trigger a painful and difficult response.

Grief is normal yet unique to each person. While each of us grieves in our own way, there are certain reactions and feelings that often occur. Being aware of them may help in the difficult process of recovery from loss.


  • When you lose anything that you cared about or that was important in your life, it is normal to grieve.

  • The same intense feelings can occur from the many different losses are experience in our life. Grieve your loss in your own way and own time. There is no right way to grieve and no set duration.

  • Let others help you. Talk about what you’re going through. Don’t be afraid to show what you’re feeling.  If you don’t talk about what you’re experiencing, it will be difficult for others to understand.

  • “Why” or “Why me” is not important-deal with what’s happening right now and how to get through it.

  • Expect setbacks. . .and remember it will get better.



You may be puzzled or worried by some of the physical and mental reactions you experience. Although these reactions can be distressing and cause you discomfort, they are part of a normal stress reaction to a traumatic event.

  • Insomnia, sleep disturbance or bad dreams

  • Repetitive thinking about the event

  • Fatigue, lack of energy and motivation

  • Being angry, irritable, worried, or “jumpy”

  • Loss of concentration

  • Change in appetite (eating more or less)

  • Aches, pains, nausea


Ways to process grief

  • Talk with someone you trust

  • Schedule a meeting with a therapist or counselor

  • Listen to favorite music or music that reminds you of the person who died

  • Recognize that some things will never make sense

  • Write a letter to your loved one

  • Learn about your faith tradition's or culture's grieving practices

  • Make a scrap book with memories, notes, quotes, pictures, and things that remind you of that person

  • It’s O.K. to cry - and it’s O.K not to cry

  • Cultural or reflective rituals, such as this candle lighting here.

Self-care while grieving

  • Try to maintain your hobbies and activities

  • Exercise, play sports

  • Find a way to have some fun, laugh, see a funny movie or TV show

  • Make a list of your strengths, things you like about yourself

  • Volunteer (i.e.: animal shelter, hospital, school, etc.)

  • Take a walk at the beach or somewhere in nature

  • Wash your face with cool water

  • Scream into a pillow or into a backpack

  • Paint or draw a picture

  • Journal, write a poem or letter

Myths About Grief

Myth: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it

Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing, it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.


Myth: It’s important to “be strong” in the face of loss.

Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.


Myth: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.

Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.


Myth: Grieving should last about a year.

Fact: There is no specific time frame for grieving. How long it takes differs from person to person.


Myth: Moving on with your life means forgetting about your loss.

Fact: Moving on means you’ve accepted your loss—but that’s not the same as forgetting. You can move on with your life and keep the memory of someone or something you lost as an important part of you. In fact, as we move through life, these memories can become more and more integral to defining the people we are.

Borrowed from Help Guide. More information here.

Torrance High School's Counseling Department

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