Grief isn’t caused only in a case of a death

It’s important to understand and acknowledge you may be grieving. CONTRIBUTED
It’s important to understand and acknowledge you may be grieving. CONTRIBUTED

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A significant loss in a person’s life can propel them into the grieving process, but only those who acknowledge the pain will be able to progress in a journey to healing.

“We’re so focused on death being related to grief, but it’s important to help people understand that you can grieve for many different reasons,” said Dale Block, MD, with Premier Family Care of Mason. “Often times, people don’t recognize that what they are dealing with is grief because they deem the event which brought it on as insignificant.”

Death of a loved one may top the list of reasons that someone experiences grief, but there are other scenarios that contend for second place. Grief is the physical and psychological reactions to loss in a person’s life. This can include losing a job, having a loved one move away and experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder after a long deployment, said Dr. Block, who practices with Premier HealthNet.

“Often times, I see patients who come to me for physical issues — their stomach hurts, their heart aches, they have dry mouth all the time — only to discover that grief is the root of the problem,” he said. “Identifying grief is a significant first step, but a person needs help walking through the entire grief process in order to become emotionally healthy again.”

The Kubler-Ross Model is the most widely used framework for walking a person through grief. The model outlines five common stages a person needs to experience in order to effectively deal with their emotion. The stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

“This is a great framework to help us learn how to live with loss,” Dr. Block said. “The severity and length of each stage may vary with each person, but it’s vital that a person walks through each one in order to regain physical and emotional wellness.”

Dr. Block suggests the following points to those who may be experiencing grief or suspect someone close to them is struggling with the emotion:

Know the warning signs. People grieve in different ways, but there are signs that may signal its presence. These include changes in sleeping patterns, loss of interest, feelings of guilt, lack of concentration, change in appetite and psychomotor retardation.

Acknowledge the pain. No matter if you have lost a terminally ill relative or feel a void in your life after a close loved one has moved away it's important to understand and acknowledge you may be grieving.

Confide with a physician. Seek the counsel of a trusted primary care physician who can help you identify your feelings and also verify whether or not any physical discomfort is linked to the grief.

Seek support systems. Consider groups you are currently involved in for extra support. Many faith-based organizations such as churches offer counseling, and insurance plans are increasingly offering coverage for mental health specialists.

“A patient can begin their journey with their physician or with someone trained in dealing with grief from a counseling perspective,” Dr. Block said. “Each should be able to determine if and when help is needed from a physician or counselor. They can then work together to help the patient heal properly.”

For more information on grief or to find a Premier HealthNet provider near you, visit