11/8/2022 | By Katharine Ross

Seniors Guide president Katharine Ross addresses the topic of grief, an unavoidable part of life but one we can learn to navigate. Understanding how people grieve can support grieving individuals and help make life a bit more manageable.

Understanding grief

Grief is an adjustment to loss. That loss can arise from various sources in addition to the loss of a loved one. A job loss, a divorce or a move into a retirement community can trigger feelings similar to grief as a person feels the loss of their known routine and the loss of consistent companionship from a circle of colleagues, friends, neighbors and/or family. Naming grief and understanding how it affects you can help you find steadier footing during such challenging times.

Grief is disorienting. It causes something I call “the fog” or the “snow globe” effect. Everything around you may feel a bit more distant. You may feel uncertain in your footing with routine interactions. You may feel sensitive or chaotic from the emotional tides that come with grieving – regret, sadness, anger, etc. This is all normal. You’ve been hit from left field with something that you weren’t ready for and it has changed your world. Showing yourself grace will go a long way to helping you find steadier ground.

Labeling grief and adjusting to loss

Woman in grief, holding her head in her hands. Understanding grief and how people grieve can aid in adjusting to loss, support grieving individuals, and help make life more manageable.

The first step in showing yourself grace is to identify exactly how grief is affecting you. Challenges can show up along the lines of insomnia, changes in appetite, a short temper, fatigue, distraction, sensitivity to routine interactions, a mind that keeps crawling over memories, etc. The types of emotional hurdles are countless and unique. In a wave of grief, take time to identify exactly how you are affected. As you spend time with loved ones who are also grieving, take note of how they are affected. Each person grieves differently.


Coping with the loss of a spouse

Managing grief during the holidays

How to support a grieving parent

The first year tends to bring the most intense and destabilizing waves. Over time, the waves will be less disorienting, less intense and less frequent as your heart and head adjust to your new normal. That being said, grieving doesn’t come with a finish line. However, labeling the emotions and the challenges your grief uniquely brings you will help you navigate these waves with stronger footing. It will help you in adjusting to loss.

Katharine Ross

Katharine Ross joined Seniors Guide in 2001 and has been helping seniors and caregivers find the resources they need ever since. She’s had a front row seat to the industry’s evolution in preparing for the demands of baby boomers, and she’s seen how caring and effective providers have navigated the challenges of contemporary society. She wants to empower seniors and caregivers to create their best lives by having access to the accurate, useful information. When she’s not working, Ross is chasing her son across ski slopes and bike trails.