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Grief is a complex yet natural response to loss, often of a loved one or of someone/something with whom a person had a close bond. Although grief is generally associated with an emotional response, a person’s grief may also affect them physically, behaviorally, cognitively, etc. The five stages of grief include denial, bargaining, depression, anger and acceptance. The healing process may include any or all of these stages in any order. It is not unusual for a person to go through a stage more than once.

The grieving process may last any length of time and is unique to everyone, though some behavior is helpful to the grieving process while other behavior may hinder it. Harmful behaviors may include overworking at one’s job, abusing alcohol or other substances, compulsive behavior, avoiding emotions or minimizing feelings. It is important to find healthy ways to process grief, such as talking with a trusted friend or counselor, crying and allowing oneself to feel both positive and negative emotions, finding support groups, writing in a journal and understanding that it takes time to process and grief. Although the grieving process may eventually result in acceptance, many people who experience grief say that the feeling of loss never really goes away.

There are counseling centers and support groups available for people coping with grief. If you or someone you know needs help, please click here for a list of resources. If you need support now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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