Chicago Counselor at The Center for Grief Recovery Chicago Counselor at The Center for Grief Recovery

And all subsided in the hush
that followed, in the calm
of great wings folding
and shadowy forms lying down.

I rose and left that room,
the house of my grief
and my bondage, my book
never again to be opened.

To see as once I saw,
steadied by the darkness
in which I walked
and would make my way.

John Haines

Home   < Grief Recovery Articles  < The Grief Experience

The Grief Experience

Grief is the natural, healthy, spontaneous, unlearned, normal, emotional, healing process that occurs after a significant loss. Grief is experienced uniquely by each of us, and is often experienced in waves, with emotions, thinking, physical, and social responses coming and going in terms of the intensity, duration, and order of our reactions to the loss. In addition there are many other variables that can affect our grief reaction

Emotional Components of loss can include:

Shock, numbness, feeling of unreality





Anger, irritability

Emptiness, loneliness


Carelessness, harming oneself or others in any way

Outbursts, euphoria

Cognitive Components of loss can include:

Slowed and/or disorganized thinking

Confusion, aimlessness, difficulty concentrating

Preoccupation, rumination

Unaffected, no thoughts at all about the person or the circumstances


Decreased self-esteem

Altered perceptions, sensing the presence of the deceased person

Physical Components of loss can include:

Fatigue, sleep disturbance

Decreased or increased appetite

Physical distress, nausea

Anxiety, hypo- or hyperactivity

Greater susceptibility to illness

Social Components of loss can include:

Being unaware of others' needs


Withdrawing from or avoiding others

Decreased work productivity

>Loss of interest in usual pleasures, including hobbies, relationships and/or sex

Strained relationships, differences in grieving needs between self and others

Variables that can affect your grief reaction:

Your own history of past losses, through deaths, divorce, relocation, lost dreams, phase of life changes. Violations of one's safety (accidents, fire, personal trauma, world crises), or health changes

Your current personal and situational stressors

Your personal beliefs in a faith tradition or spiritual practice

Your cultural and family expectations about loss

If the loss is anticipated or unanticipated

If the loss is marked by traumatic events

The degree to which closure with the person was possible

A "loss out of season," for the person who has died or for you

Your ability to share the loss with others

Your coping style and use of stress management resources

Working through past hurts and forgiveness issues

Finding a way to make meaning of the loss

Grieving is a process. There is no correct timetable for the waves and reactions of grief. Yet, as you work through your grief, you can regain your balance, develop a sense of completeness, and re-engage in life in a deeper way. Your self-awareness in the process can be a personal journey and also one you may wish to share with others, through family, friendship, and work circles, or through professional
and community resources.


Copyright, 2010

The Center is expanding.

Center for Grief Recovery and Therapeutic Services has immediate openings for two full-time licensed psychologists. Click here for more information

The Center is expanding. Click here to for more about our newest clincial professional counselor, Elizabeth Cerven

New Groups

The Center is now taking names for new Healing Our Losses Group. See attached flyer and FAQ for detailed info. Contact Us by phone or email to find out more.

New Workshops
Center colleague Allan Schnarr, MDiv, PhD offering new CHANGE OF HEART . . . . Vulnerability and Self-transcendence workshop . . . [read more]

Center colleague Allan Schnarr, MDiv, PhD offering new "TRANSFORMING LOVE - Creativity as a way of new life" workshop . . . [read more]

News and Events
Thank You! Our 30th Anniversary celebration was a hit. To read more, click on this link.

Center Grief Recovery celebrates 30 Years with Open House Fundraiser. To learn more, click on this link.

We are excited to announce that Paul Martin, PsyD has become the Center's assistant director. To learn more about Paul's practice click on this link.

The Center Expands Again! Please join us in welcoming Megan Kelleher, LCSW who comes to us with wonderfully empathic presence, and a broad range of helping skills. You can learn more about her by visiting our Therapists section or clicking on this link.

Community Walk for Grief Support: Celebrating 25 Years of Transformation
The Center celebrated its 25th year anniversary with a fund raiser walk in Rogers Park, Chicago on June 4.
[read more]

New Articles

New interview on ideas for what to say and do to support the bereaved, by the Center's Meg Kelleher, LCSW. [read here]

Pain Bonds Us - I feel close to you when you let your pain show. A protective shield inside me slides away. [read more]

Private Practice: Dynamic Psychotherapy and Bereavement Counseling (CEU) [read more]

You Know Therapy Is Working When . . . - You feel increasingly uncomfortable with the status quo when it is causing harm. [read more]

Ideas About Mourning - For the griever the future feels shattered; everything hoped for is broken and gone/ lost like a broken mirror. [read more]

Myths and Realities of Mourning - Regrettably, our society maintains a host of unrealistic assumptions and inappropriate expectations when it comes to the work of grief and mourning. Here are some myths to consider: [read more]

The Difference Between Grief and Mourning - It is critical to know the difference between grief and mourning. Both processes are there to help the bereaved face the reality that their loved one is gone and then to slowly begin to accommodate to that fact. [read more]


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