Grief is the natural reaction to loss, and can influence the physical, emotional, cognitive, behavioural and spiritual aspects of our lives. Grief can be experienced in response to a variety of loss-related events, such as the death of a loved one, separation or divorce, the loss of a sense of safety or predictability, physical incapacity through disability, or the loss of one’s home or community due to disaster.

Key Points

People cope with grief and loss in a variety of ways. While some might find it helpful to talk openly about the experience, others might prefer time alone. The intensity and duration of the grieving process can also differ between individuals. For most people, the experience of grief will dominate their emotions, thoughts, and behaviours for a number of weeks or months.

As time passes, most individuals learn to cope with their grief and go about their daily lives, although for many the loss will remain a part of them. Most people who experience loss will not need professional help, however, some (approximately 10 to 20%) seek and require professional support.


Grief is an individual experience and people can respond to loss in a variety of ways. Responses include emotional, cognitive, physical and behavioural changes.
Emotional responses include:

Cognitive changes can include:

Physical and behavioural responses can include:

In addition, there can be significant changes to a person’s spiritual or philosophical views and beliefs; for example, people may question their faith or the meaning of life.

Seeking Help

Grief is a normal response to loss, and while many people will learn to adjust to the loss on their own, some individuals may require assistance by a psychologist to help them adjust to their loss and cope with their grief. Psychologists are highly trained and qualified professionals, skilled in diagnosing and treating a range of concerns, including grief.

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