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The Grieving Process

Experiencing grief after a loss or trauma can be difficult. Grief is a very personal process that is unique to each individual. There is no one way to grieve and you may experience the effects of the loss for a few months or even a few years. Going through the grieving process can be painful and confusing but it does not have to become unmanageable. Counseling can assist with coping with the difficulty of grief based on your unique needs.

How can you tell if you are grieving?

Signs and symptoms of grieving include:

  • Shock or numbness
  • Feeling out of control
  • Anger
  • Physical Discomfort - such as headaches, chest pain, abdominal pain or nausea
  • Being withdrawn and avoiding others or being unusually dependent on others
  • Wandering aimlessly
  • Forgetfulness or slowed thinking
  • Looking for the deceased or sensing their presence
  • Dreams of the deceased or reliving the traumatic experience
  • Feelings of fear, guilt, loneliness, irritability, anxiety, apathy, sensitivity, or relief
  • Depression - symptoms of this may include: crying frequently or easily, a loss of energy, sleeping excessively or having difficulty sleeping, difficulty making decisions, changes in appetite, lack of motivation or interest in activities, and thoughts of your own death.


Whether your grieving experience is relatively short or lasts a long time, talking through your grief with a professional can make the difference in how the loss affects your present and future. Furthermore, a counselor can help you distinguish between complicated and uncomplicated grief. Doing so may assist you in understanding your individual reaction to a loss and help you cope. Additionally, counselors may help those that are grieving with the 6 "R"; Processes of grief. These include:

  1. RECOGNIZING the loss - acknowledging and understanding the death
  2. REACTING to the separation - experiencing the pain, accepting, and expressing the reaction to the loss; identifying and mourning secondary losses
  3. RECOLLECTING and RE-EXPERIENCING the deceased and the relationship - reviewing and remembering realistically; reviving and re-experiencing feelings about the person
  4. RELINQUISHING the old attachments to the deceased and the old assumptive world
  5. READJUSTING to move adaptively into the new world without forgetting the old - developing a new relationship with the deceased; adopting a new way of being in the world, forming a new identity
  6. REINVESTING in the world and trusting the world again in order to begin rebuilding.

(Rando, T. A. (1993). Treatment of Complicated Mourning. Champain, Illinois: Research Press) 

Additional Resources

Grief can sometimes be confused with or closely related to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder , also known as PTSD.