Here, our Counsellors talk about feelings of anxiety following a loss and explain how these are perfectly normal feelings to experience.
After the death of a loved one, anxiety is a normal response to the loss. Anxiety can range from a sense of insecurity, to full blown panic attacks. Anxiety may arise from FEAR at being left alone and feelings of not being able to cope without the loved one, feelings of helplessness. This is a regressive feeling of not being able to cope alone.
DEATH ANXIETY is the heightened awareness of our own mortality. It can also heighten our awareness that life is fragile and we can lose someone we love or ourselves at any time. This will eventually fade but is always there is the background of our minds.
S. Lewis wrote “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning, I keep on swallowing”
Anxiety can affect the appetite and appetite disturbance is common after the death of a loved one. This can manifest as either under-eating or over-eating. Under-eating is more common after a death and there can be significant weight loss.
Sometimes a person may develop a fear or phobia about illness or death, especially around the specific illness which took the loved one. So the person may be extra scared of cancer or heart attacks. Sometimes, especially in unresolved grief, a person may take on the symptoms of the deceased around anniversaries of the death or at the age the loved one was when they died.
Anxiety is a normal part of the grieving process and can manifest in many ways. The more out of control we feel the more anxious we feel. It is important for us to be able to gain control of our life in whatever way we can after the death of a loved one. This can be by adhering to simple routines, keeping our personal space tidy and organising our time so that there is a balance of work, exercise, distracting activities and time to express our emotions and grief. Doing whatever we can to feel grounded and safe is important for us to feel able to cope and not so overwhelmed by anxiety and stress.
If you feel you need support, contact us on 01782 683155 (Mon-Fri) to speak with our Counselling Team.