Understanding Grief

Hey there Guys,

Today I woke to find out that a friend and colleague had passed on.

I’m angry. He was so young and a bloody nice bloke. I’m sad that such a caring and talented man could be taken from the world. I am numb.

Despite my training, each time I lose a friend, a loved one and even a patient, I can’t help but wonder how cruel the world can be some times. Grief can be like that.

Today I thought it was important to talk about grief.

Grief is a natural response to loss. Despite what the popular psychologists like to say, everyone experiences grief in their own way. There are no “8 steps of grief”, and there is no set timeline there is no standard way to “go through grief”. We are all different.

Some common responses to loss can include:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Sadness and depression
  • Difficulties in concentration
  • Guilt and remorse
  • Helplessness
  • Hopelessness
  • Loneliness
  • For some, particularly when there has been protracted illness, relief.

The important thing to remember is that everyone is going to experience grief in their own individual way and time. Each reaction is normal as we work to reach an understanding of our loss.

Today I felt it was important to reach out and offer some thoughts for you, my friends, that I have found helpful at times like these.

Perhaps the most important is to be kind to yourself, be understanding and most importantly, be gentle with yourself and your friends.

This can be a tough time; some suggestions people have found helpful include:

Look after your body.

Even though you may not feel like eating, take some time to include some healthy foods. If you are able, take part in some gentle exercise. Whether it’s a gentle walk or a hard run, getting the blood flowing can be cathartic with the release of endorphins, our bodies natural “happy hormones” which help clarify the mind.

If you are able, take some time out, take some time to be with yourself.

While the idea of drugs such as pot or alcohol that numb the mind may sound like a good idea, they are often used as a way to delay grief and in most cases make things worse. I highly recommend avoiding drugs at times like this. Grief is confusing enough; substances that alter the way the mind works are not going to help make it any less confusing.

Look after each other.

Death of a loved one will never happen in isolation. Each person who’s life has been touched will be effected in some way.

During hard times it’s important that we are there for each other. Simple gestures such as a caring hug, an open ear, even just being with someone is silence can be supportive and caring when times are tough. Again, everyone is different. Some may wish time alone, others may want to be with friends. Talk with your mates and let them know you are thinking of them.

If you notice a friend is doing it tough don’t be afraid to reach out. This does not mean you need to take on the role of their counsellor, however letting them know that there is support available can to them be very comforting.

If you are feeling out of your depth, ask for help.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.

Thankfully there are many people who are able to offer supports when times are hard. If you have a family doctor you feel comfortable with, this can be a great place to start. Your GP can be a great source of support and they are able to suggest suitable referrals if you may need some additional help.

Don’t forget there are many helpful agencies that can offer support, many are 24/7 and can be accessed via the phone. Some that may be useful for readers in Australia include:

Life Line Australia 13 11 14

The Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service 1800 18 4527
In Melbourne 03-9827-8544
In Sydney 02-8594-9596
In Brisbane 07-3017-1717
In Adelaide 08-8334-1623
For NT Services Click Here
For Tasmanian Services Click Here

If you are reading this outside of Australia the best contacts can be your local health service or family doctor.

Guys, grief can be a tough time. Be good to yourself, be good to your friends.

If you or one of your friends are doing it tough, remember there is always help available. You just need to be strong enough to put your hand up.


Dr George

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