Common Grief Reactions

This table lists symptoms commonly expected during bereavement. Each person will experience a unique blend of some or all of the symptoms listed and perhaps some that are not listed.


· Pain
· Fatigue, exhaustion, low energy
· Sleep disruption
· Appetite disruption
· Shortness of breath
· Tight or heavy feeling in chest
· Feeling of tightness in throat
· Hollow feeling in stomach
· Stomach pain and upset
· Heartache, broken heart
· Dry mouth
· Tension
· Restlessness, irritability
· Increased sensitivity to stimuli
· “Grief Attacks”
· “Sympathy Pains”


· Shock, numbness
· Emptiness
· Sadness
· Sorrow for the one who has died
· Loneliness, longing, yearning
· Anger
· Guilt, regret
· Resentment
· “More I should have done”
· Fear, anxiety, insecurity
· Feeling helpless, out of control
· Diminished self-concern
· “Don’t care”, “What does it matter?”
· Depression
· Desire to join the deceased
· Suicidal feelings
· Feelings of betrayal, disloyalty
· “Emotional roller coaster”
· Relief


· Disbelief
· Confusion
· Disorientation
· Absentmindedness
· Forgetfulness
· Poor concentration
· Distraction
· Difficulty focusing and attending
· Low motivation
· Expecting the deceased to call
· Preoccupation with the deceased
· Need to tell and retell the story
· Dreams or images of the deceased
· Denial
· Thinking about other deaths and losses


· Being isolated by others
· Withdrawing from social activities
· Diminished desire for conversation
· Being “widowed”, “single”, etc.
· Hide grief to “take care of others”
· Lose friends, make new friends


· Crying (sometimes unexpectedly)
· Searching for the deceased
· Carrying special objects
· Going to grave site
· Making and keeping an altar
· Keeping belongings intact
· Looking at photos or videos
· Listening to recordings
· Talking to the deceased
· Avoiding situations that arouse grief
· Changes in daily routine
· “Staying busy”
· Assuming mannerisms of the deceased


Questions about God
· Why would God allow this?

 Questions about the deceased:
· Where are they now?
· Are they okay?
· Can they see me?
· Will I see them again?
· What will happen when I die?
· Sensing the deceased’s presence
· Hearing, smelling, or seeing the deceased
· Death affirms or challenges beliefs
· Awe, wonder, mystery

A resource group online for 20-30yr olds who have experienced loss of a significant person in their life:
The Dinner Party

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