Grief and Anxiety (A Complete Guide)


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Page last updated: 16/09/2022

Grief and Anxiety

Grief and anxiety are common emotions experienced by a person over the course of life as life is full of up and down.

If there is a period of achievement, there might also be a period of failure which ultimately follows grief and anxiety.

Grief and anxiety can be considered as two sides of one coin. There is a strong relationship between these two.

This article will explore grief and anxiety. 

Grief and Anxiety (A Complete Guide)


Anxiety is a natural response of a body in reaction to stress. It is constituted by emotion of fear or apprehension for what is coming next.

Anxiety is a part of natural everyday life as a person might feel anxious on the first day of school, before a job interview or because of interpersonal conflict.

However, if this anxiety remains for a longer period of time or if it starts to interfere with the daily routine of a person’s life, it becomes dysfunctional. Such dysfunctional anxiety is diagnosed as anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorder:

Anxiety can play its role in motivating individuals to be prepared for a situation that can cause anxiety, in this way certain amount anxiety becomes functional for individuals.

However, problems arise when anxiety becomes hindrance for a person in performing daily routine tasks.

It remains with the person all the time, it’s intense and incapacitating. It can interfere in the menial task such as using the elevator, crossing the road or going out of the house. 

According to American psychological association, anxiety is the most common of all emotional disorders.

It can affect individuals at any age. It is also more common in women than in men. 

Grief and Anxiety (A Complete Guide)

Symptoms of Anxiety:

Symptoms of anxiety differ from individual to individual. Symptoms can range from feeling butterflies in the stomach to irregular heart beat.

People can experience anxiety in the form of panic attacks, nightmares, painful thoughts and memories that the individual has no control on.

A person might feel that his mind is disconnected from his body. Common symptoms of anxiety are as follow:

  • Restlessness 
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Difficulty in falling and staying asleep 
  • Trouble in concentrating 

Causes of Anxiety:

There are a plethora of causes that can cause anxiety including genetic, environmental and hormonal factors.

Causes of anxiety are complex as many causes occur at one time or one cause can lead to another cause.

Possible causes of anxiety are as follow:

  • Environmental factors: These factors include interpersonal difficulties, problems at work or family issues.
  • Genetic factors: Individuals who have a family history of anxiety are more likely to experience anxiety disorder as genetics play a major role in anxiety disorder. 
  • Medical factors: Anxiety can result from other medical conditions or can be an effect of medication. Intensive surgery or prolonged prognosis can also result in anxiety.
  • Brain chemistry: In the brain certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and GABA are associated with anxiety.
  • Withdrawal: Withdrawal from any drug can result in symptoms of anxiety. This can also activate other causes of anxiety. 


Treatment for anxiety is a combination of medication, behavioral therapy and psychotherapy.

Anxiety can be the result of underlying conditions such as depression or drug dependency thus before treating anxiety, underlying conditions must be addressed first. 

  1. Self-treatment:

A person can treat anxiety at home without any clinical supervision though this might not be effective for long term or severe anxiety.

Certain activities for a person to deal with mild short term anxiety are as follow:

  • Stress management
  • Relaxation therapy 
  • Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones
  • Exercise 
  • Support networks
  • Listening to music, reading or praying
  1. Therapeutic Interventions:

If anxiety is prolonged and severe, a person might need to get professional help and counseling.

Most commonly used therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy in which a person’s negative thought pattern is countered and is replaced with a positive thought pattern. 

  1. Medication:

Anxiety can be managed through medication as it can change the brain chemistry of a person.


Grief is the normal reaction of a human towards a loss. It is emotional suffering experienced by a person after the loss of a closed one.

Grief can be overwhelming as many difficulties to deal with emotions are involved in a process ranging from anger or guilt to denial and profound sadness.

With emotional difficulties, grief can also have a deep impact on an individual’s physical health and it becomes difficult for a person to eat or sleep properly.

The intensity of a grief is directly associated with significance of loss.

Although the grief is associated with a loss of loved one, it can be experienced after any of the following loss:

  1. Loss of health
  2. Loss of job
  3. Loss of financial stability
  4. Loss of a relationship
  5. Retirement 
  6. Miscarriage 
  7. Expiry of pet
  8. Loss of a dream 
  9. Loss of friend 
  10. Loss of home 

Subtle changes in life can lead to grief. Grief is personal to a person as loss is.

Thus a person should not feel ashamed during a grieving process as it is completely normal to grief over personal loss of certain things in life.

Process of grief is personal to every individual and he can feel grief in his or her way but a person can deal with the grief in a healthy way by using coping mechanisms which help him to find new meaning in life and give him hope. 

Grieving Process:

Grieving is a personal experience of every individual and everyone grieves in their own way.

process depends on the person’s lifestyle, their life experiences, their coping mechanism and the significance of loss. 

There is no specified time period for grief after the loss. Some can go through the process in a week or months but for some it can take up to years.

During the grieving process a person cannot be pushed to feel better as it is a natural process and unfolds over the period of time on its own. 

Dealing with Grief:

Every person goes through the grieving process in their life as it is a natural process.

There are certain ways which person can adopt to deal with pain, come to term with the loss and find new meaning in life.

A person can deal with grief as follow:

  • Acknowledging the pain
  • Accepting the truth that grieving process can result in many different emotions
  • Understanding that grieving is personal and unique process
  • Seeking out help from people close to you
  • Supporting emotional health through physical health
  • Recognizing the difference in symptoms of grieve and depression

Grief and Anxiety:

It has been reported by clinicians that a person experiencing grief begins to experience the symptoms of anxiety too.

Clair Bidwell (2018) suggested that anxiety should be the part of five stages of grief suggested by Elisabeth Kubler-ross. 

Grief and anxiety are related strongly as facing the loss of a beloved or losing something significant can put the person in a vulnerable place.

This can result in confrontation of an individual with some serious truth of being like mortality which can give way for the symptoms of anxiety to surface in an intense way.

Loss can result in individual worrying and panicking over little things, thinking about who else they might lose in their life.

Individuals with a syndrome known as complicated grief are more prone to experience symptoms of anxiety.

Complicated grief syndrome is characterized by having severe and persistent grieving symptoms.

The relationship between grief and anxiety is bidirectional.

As a person in the grieving process is more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety, a person with a history of anxiety develops more severe symptoms of grief. 

The relationship between grief and anxiety can be explained by two things that is unprocessed grief, where an individual is unable to process grief effectively leading to anxiety, and experience of expiration.

As after a loss a person starts to think that how insignificant an event can lead to such significant loss, resulting in an experience of anxiety. 

This relationship between grief and anxiety can also be explained by one’s relationship with emotions in general or his or her belief about emotions.

People are socialized to deal with their emotions as early as possible and move towards the normal course of life.

When a person is unable to do so during the grieving process, he starts to fear his unexpected emotion leading to symptoms of anxiety. 

Dealing with Grief and Anxiety:

Periods of grief and anxiety are difficult to deal with. As grief and anxiety can have major impacts on a person’s physical and mental health.

Thus it is important for a person to deal with grief and anxiety in an effective way.

According to Clair Bidwell (2018) first a person should process the grief to deal with the symptoms of anxiety as it is grief which leads to the symptoms of anxiety.

A person can opt one of the following to deal with grief and anxiety:

Counseling can help a person in dealing with grief and anxiety by equipping him with skills to deal with symptoms of anxiety and finding a new meaning in life to overcome the grieving period.

Seeking counseling can also inhibit grief and anxiety to develop into complicated grief and anxiety disorder.

  • Going  to basics:

During grief and anxiety, an individual’s daily life activity is compromised.

Thus it is suggested that a person should take care of his basic needs first such as eating and sleeping properly and spending time with family.

This can help a person in dealing with grief and ultimately reducing symptoms of anxiety. 

Grief and anxiety should be a thing that a person has to deal with alone.

If after a loss, a person becomes financially unstable, he should not hesitate asking for help from a friend or family.

He should also consult a therapist for managing the symptoms of anxiety. A person should check with his doctor for his physical health. 


Grief and anxiety have a strong relationship. The person who is grieving is more prone to experience anxiety and vice versa.

Grief and anxiety can have an impact on a person’s physical, emotional and psychological health.

Thus it is suggested a person should take prescribed measures during the period of grief and anxiety.

FAQs about Grief and Anxiety

What causes expiration anxiety?

Major triggers of expiration anxiety include traumatic events related to expiration or actual expiration of a closed one.

A person experiencing terminal illness experiences more expiration anxiety than others. 

Can loss of pets cause anxiety?

Loss of a pet can result in a period of grief and it is pretty common to experience a number of different and unexpected emotions during the grieving process such as anxiety, denial and guilt.

How long do symptoms of anxiety last?

Anxiety is usually linked to a specific and symptoms of anxiety ward off as soon as situation anxiety causes a situation ends.

If symptoms of anxiety lasts longer than this or become dysfunctional for a person it should have a clinical diagnosis.