Getting through grief

At a time of loss, it's important to focus on maintaining your health and getting the support you need.

Published: November, 2016

Image: natalie_broad/iStock

Losing a family member, a close friend, or even a beloved pet can be devastating. All the small details of daily life—getting out of bed, making meals, going to appointments, taking care of children, handling responsibilities at work—may seem monumentally hard or inconsequential. Yet, even as you grieve, you've probably been reminded that life must go on. But working through the emotional pain can be difficult, particularly during the holidays, when you may feel you are supposed to be celebrating.

The normal process of grieving

"There are cultural differences and personal style differences, but grief is a shared part of the human experience," says Dr. Michael Craig Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Grief isn't linear. It usually comes as wave after wave of emotion. With time, most people manage to reach equilibrium. While significant losses are never forgotten, the feelings of grief become less intense and more manageable.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »