Grief is the normal, emotional reaction to the loss of something valuable or meaningful. It is a necessary and natural process- it is not an event. Needing help with grief is normal. Benefitting from help is universal.

Grief has no time frame. It may begin at the time of loss (in cases of unexpected deaths) or it may begin at the time of diagnosis

In general, feelings of grief should lessen as time moves on but it is not linear. Feelings of intense grief may last for several days or several months. You may feel that you get better, then take steps back and feel worse, and this can repeat over time. The loss will always be a part of your life.

Grief will look different for each and every one of us depending on our relationship to the deceased, our outlook on life, our spirituality, culture, family belief system, personality and environment.

Grief can be a cumulative experience. Our past grief experiences can impact on our current grief experiences: they can teach us coping skills; they can help us learn how to ask for help, lean on our support network, and verbalize our feelings; they can also bubble to the surface again and again with each future loss.

Symptoms of grief can include:

Physical-sobbing, lump in the throat, nausea, tightness in the chest, sleep and appetite disturbance, body aches, shock, numbness.

Intellectual-confusion, denial, inability to concentrate, hallucination, thoughts of suicide (not with concrete plans or behaviours).

Emotional-depression, sadness, anger, guilt, loneliness, irritability, anxiety, relief, shame, hopelessness, innappropriate effect (such as laughter or nervous smiles).

Social-withdrawing, isolation, increased dependency on others, reluctance to ask for help, desire to find distractions, inability to socialize without substance abuse.

Pet loss can sometimes be seen as disenfranchised grief: when the human-animal relationship, the loss or the griever are not socially recognized; the loss is not easily openly acknowledged, publicly mourned and/or socially supported.