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Anxiety Caused By Grief: Reducing The Fear After Loss

Many American families are grieving the loss of loved ones who were killed by Covid-19. But grief is difficult anyway, even when not accompanied by the devastation of a global pandemic – with its staggering amount of lives lost, homes destroyed, economic security threatened, etc.

Anxiety Caused By Grief: Reducing The Fear After Loss

People say that they’re not sure how to grieve because they don’t feel like they’re doing it the right way,” explained Claire Bidwell Smith, author of Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief. It’s a no-win situation, she insisted. Not doing it is the only way that is wrong.

Anxiety Caused By Grief: Reducing The Fear After Loss

A common mistake is to misinterpret grief-related anxiety as being caused by something unrelated. According to Smith, 70% of her clients have gone into the hospital after a big loss to deal with their panic. She often struggles to understand the connection between physical symptoms and loss after doctors rule out physical illness when clients seek her counseling. In places like the United States, where grief is widespread, this becomes particularly problematic, Smith explained.

Countless people have experienced grief and loss due to the death of Covid-19, with over 4 million reported deaths worldwide since December 2019. Smith explains that the first step toward healing is connecting the dots between loss and anxiety.

Clarifications have been made to this conversation.

What are the similarities and differences between grief and anxiety?

Claire Bidwell Smith: We realize that we are not safe, things are not certain, and we do not have control over our lives when the unexpected occurs.

While all should be true, losing someone is one of the hardest reminders. Most people are not aware of how much change and upheaval are involved in a divorce. You can drop to your knees when you experience grief, an emotion that comes along with a significant loss. As a result, anxiety grows.

People who have suffered a loss can begin to worry about their well-being or the safety of other family members. They might not even recognize that the feelings they’re experiencing come from anxiety or have any connection to their grief.

There are many physical symptoms associated with anxiety, which causes fear and worry. Heart palpitations, stomach pain, head pain, insomnia, headaches, and sweating can be misinterpreted as these symptoms. There are many people who believe they have a medical issue rather than a psychological one.

If someone is suffering from grief-related anxiety, how can you help?

Claire Bidwell Smith: During my work, I help people trace their anxiety on a timeline as a means to connect the dots between their loss and fear: When was the last time I was anxious? Was my loved one in good health before he or she died?

The anxiety might start before the death if the loved one was ill for a long time. Anxiety might begin right away after someone dies suddenly. Whenever someone veers into anxiety territory, it’s usually a result of a loss that has recently occurred.

Many people I see who have never experienced anxiety in their lives suddenly begin experiencing panic attacks soon after a loved one has passed away. Those accustomed to anxiety may notice symptoms intensifying after a loss or perhaps exhibiting new symptoms.

If someone is suffering from grief-related anxiety, how can you help?

Claire Bidwell Smith: During my work, I help people trace their anxiety on a timeline as a means to connect the dots between their loss and fear: When was the last time I was anxious? Was my loved one in good health before he or she died?

The anxiety might start before the death of the loved one was ill for a long time. Anxiety might begin right away after someone dies suddenly. Whenever someone veers into anxiety territory, it’s usually a result of a loss that has recently occurred.

People who have never experienced anxiety before start having panic attacks after losing someone close to them. Some people with anxiety have seen their symptoms intensify following a loss, and others have noticed that they’ve taken on a new dimension after losing a loved one.

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