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  • Louise Friend

Am I allowed to grieve if nobody has died?

Grief is a normal response to any form of loss. There are many different types of losses that are both tangible and intangible and don't necessarily involve death such as:


Loss of hopes

Loss of dreams

Loss of income

Loss of job

Loss of relationships

Loss of assumptive view of the world of how you thought life would be

Loss of security and safety

Loss of health

Loss of functioning

Loss of role

Loss of travel


Even though you are grieving, others may not understand the enormity of your loss, so they may not validate your grief. Sometimes when people who have lost someone to death, they may still receive invalidating responses but living with a loss that doesn’t involve a death, it may feel that you are grieving all alone.


If this is the case for you, the following tips may help you to cope:


  1. Self-compassion - The pain of loss can be uncomfortable and frightening and it is natural to try and avoid pain by suppressing it or fighting against it. Most likely pain will manifest in other ways if we avoid it. Using self-compassion we can mindfully accept that the moment is painful, and embrace ourselves with kindness as a response. If we ever feel overwhelmed by our emotions, the most self-compassionate response may be to focus on the breath for a moment, or on the sensation of the soles of our feet on the ground, or engage in ordinary acts of self-care such as having a cup of tea or cuddling a pet. By repeatedly using acts of self-care in the moment the habit of self-compassion is re-enforced everyday – giving ourselves what we need.

  2. Talk to a good listener - If you have a friend or family member who actively listens without trying to give you advice or "fix" it, talk to them about how you feel about your loss. If you are not receiving the support you need then it can be beneficial to talk to a grief counsellor who understands that grief can be disenfranchised and who can support you to cope and adjust to your loss.

  3. Write a journal - Everybody's grief is unique, however, if you can write down your feelings and thoughts and acknowledge these responses as normal for your grief, this can help you to process your loss. If you can name what you are feeling and thinking, writing these down can help you to externalise these responses, instead of holding them inside, which can impact our well-being.

  4. Take a break from grief - Give yourself permission to mentally take a break from the grief you are experiencing, the grief will still be there, when you come back. It is a healthy and wise decision to step away and recharge so that you can cope and integrate loss into your life. Taking a break may take many forms such as giving yourself permission to enjoy dinner with friends, watch a movie, for example. It can be helpful to write down what would taking a break look like for you?

Non death losses they still count as grief..

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Inner West & Eastern Suburbs, Sydney, NSW, Australia

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I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which I work and live, and recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community. I pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.

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