Understanding Grief:

Grief is the emotional reaction to a physical loss. It is often described as heartache and sorrow following the loss of a person, pet, place or situation that is a valued part of a person’s life. You can even experience grief before you lose someone, that is called anticipatory grief. An example of anticipatory grief is worry and anxiety over a loved one who is dying from a terminal illness.

Every person experiences grief and loss in unique ways. How a person reacts to grief may depend on the relationship he or she had with the person, object or situation that was lost as well as the individual’s personality, life experiences and overall ability to cope.

Symptoms of grief can include all or just a few of these:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Aches and pains
  • Crying
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue and/or weakness
  • Feeling detached from others
  • Feelings of heaviness
  • Frustration
  • Guilt
  • Headaches
  • Isolation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Questioning the reason for the loss, the purpose of pain and suffering, and/or the purpose of life and death
  • Stress-related ailments
  • Worry

Stages of grief

    • Denial
    • Disbelief and numbness
    • Anger and blaming
    • Bargaining
    • Depressed mood
    • Sadness and crying
    • Acceptance or coming to terms with the loss

Each of these stages can last a long or short time and they do not necessarily happen in order. But if you get stuck in one stage for a long time, it can lead to clinical depression.

How long does grief last? This is a common question asked especially as survivors try and navigate a new normal. There is no timeline grieving; some people will be able to return to normal functioning within weeks or months. Others, particularly those who experienced a loss that was traumatic and unexpected or whose daily life has been radically changed, may take a year or longer to fully adjust.


Grief is a universal experience. Everyone deals with it in different ways. Here are some links to informational resources and support groups.

North Okanagan Hospice Society
Grief and Bereavement Services

Sunrise Grief Retreat
Residential retreats for individuals who are experiencing grief

Suicide Grief Support Group

BC Bereavement Helpline
604-738-9950 Telephone support, info/referral

New Hope
Support for men and women of any age who have lost a spouse

Compassionate Friends of Canada
International self-help organization for parents who have experienced the death of a child.

Empty Cradle
Peer support group for parents who have lost an infant or who have experienced pregnancy loss.

604-643-9637 Group grief support

Hope and Healing: A Practical Guide for Survivors of Suicide
Focuses on practical issues for survivors who have lost a loved one to suicide. PDF

October 15.ca
A Canadian-based online resource for parents who have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal loss. Promotes awareness to the public and gives practical ways to family and friends in providing help and support.

Baby’s Breath
1-800-END-SIDS Phone and online peer support; information and prevention.

Crisis Line
Available 24 hours a day. Confidential.

Community Response Team (Mental Health Team)
Call for acute/urgent emotional support

Whitevalley Community Resource Centre
250-547-8866 (Lumby)
Open Mon. to Fri. 9 am – 4 pm

First Nations Friendship Centre

Family Resource Centre

Guided relaxation in 2 or 10-minute formats.  Recommended.

Other Options to Locate a Counsellor:

Check with your employer if there is an Employee Assistance Program

Your own church can be helpful, if applicable.

Check with your child’s school for a school counselor for them.

Check in the Yellow Pages under “Counsellors”.

Funeral Homes can offer support.

Go to http://www.griefworksbc.com

BC Bereavement Helpline at 1-877-779-2223