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Effects of grief

2-minute read

The effects of grief can often resemble depression and some people do go on to develop depression following a significant loss. If you are dealing with a major loss and finding it difficult to cope, see your doctor.


It is common to cry a lot, and feel incredibly sad. Some people never cry at all, but this doesn't mean they are not grieving. There is likely to be initial shock and disbelief as well as a range of feelings, including numbness, a sense of unreality, anger, loneliness or guilt.

Physical health

Grief can be exhausting and this may weaken the immune system, making people prone to colds and illness.

Social life

Some people may isolate themselves after losing a loved one. Some solitude may be necessary for healing, but it's also important to stay connected to others.

Spiritual life

Some people may experience dreams about their loved one, feeling their presence or hearing their voice. People who are grieving often search for meaning and examine their spiritual beliefs.

Post-traumatic growth

Some people find positive experiences following grief and loss, such as a new sense of wisdom, maturity and meaning in life.

Complicated grief and depression

In some people, grief can be prolonged or more intense, and it may interfere with their ability to cope with everyday life. This may be more likely if the loss was particularly traumatic, such as a suicide or death of a child.

For more help and information

If you need someone to talk to, or want to find out more, these organisations can help you:

  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) - call 13 11 14 or chat online
  • beyondblue (24/7 support and advice) - call 1300 22 4636 or chat online
  • Kids Helpline (ages 5-25) - call 1800 55 1800

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Last reviewed: February 2018

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