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How do people grieve?

Some experts observe that reactions to loss differ depending on a variety of circumstances: how the person died, the quality of the relationship, the attachment style of the bereaved, and cultural, social, and economic factors. Some researchers combine elements of several grief models. Margaret Stroebe and Henk Schut note that early in grieving, the emphasis is on "loss-oriented coping," such as focusing on the person who died, the circumstances of the death, and negative feelings like yearning and despair. Later, people invest more in "restoration-oriented coping," focusing on issues that have arisen, such as loneliness or significant changes in their life, and ways to handle these problems. Rather than grieving continually, people seek respite periods. Time away from grief might take the form of a weekend with friends or a day of social activities.

If you have read popular books on grief, you know that many offer their own recipes for moving through it. Some merely observe the experience. Others comfort through prayers or poetic reflections. Still others present step-by-step blueprints for resolution. But every person grieves differently and, often, grief is not a linear experience. New losses and joys occur. Anniversaries arrive. These moments may offer an opportunity to go back to a past grief and work through it a bit more.

Some people feel anxious, or others worry on their behalf, if they don't follow a particular pathway. However, grief is not a tidy, orderly process, and there is no single "right" way to grieve. Expect your emotions to collide and overlap. Understand that your ability to move ahead with your life will ebb and flow. Grieve at the pace and in the way that feels right to you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.