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Grief

Grief is the mix of thoughts, feelings, and actions that happens when we lose something—usually a loved one. Any loss can cause grief, including the loss of a relationship, your health, your job, or a dream. Often, the pain of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions—shock, anger, guilt, and profound sadness. The pain of grief can disrupt your physical health, making it difficult to sleep, eat, or even think straight.

Grief is difficult, but there are things you can do to work your way through the natural grief experience. Talking about your loss, getting support from family and friends, and bereavement support can all help.

 

What is normal?

Grief is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense your grief will be. Most people experiencing normal grief and bereavement have a period of sorrow and even guilt or anger. Gradually these feelings ease, and it's possible to accept the loss and move forward.

 

What are common signs and symptoms?

For some people, the feelings of loss don't improve even after time passes. This is known as complicated grief. In complicated grief, painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble resuming your own life. Signs of complicated grief may include:

  • Intense sorrow, pain, and rumination over the loss
  • Focus on little else but your loss
  • Extreme focus on reminders of the loved one or excessive avoidance of reminders
  • Intense and persistent longing or pining for the deceased
  • Problems accepting the death
  • Numbness or detachment
  • Bitterness about your loss
  • Feeling that life holds no meaning or purpose
  • Lack of trust in others
  • Inability to enjoy life or think back on positive experiences with your loved one
  • Trouble carrying out normal routines
  • Isolation from others
  • Depression, deep sadness, guilt, or self-blame

 

Should I seek help?

Contact your doctor or a mental health professional if you have intense grief and problems functioning that don't improve at least one year after the passing of your loved one. 

If you think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, seek emergency treatment immediately—call 911 or the Nova Scotia Mental Health Crisis line at 1-888-429-8167.

 

Tools

Kids Help Phone

Kids Help Phone
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7 e-mental health service offering free, confidential support to young people in English and French. Services include mental health tips and info, crisis support, professional counselling, quizzes, games and...

Visit Kids Help Phone

More Information:

Adults / Children / Youth

Mygrief.ca

Canadian Virtual Hospice
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

MyGrief.ca is an online resource to help people move through their grief from the comfort of their own home, at their own pace. It can help you understand your grief and approach some of the most difficult questions that may arise. It was developed...

Visit Mygrief.ca

More Information:

Grief / Grief
Adults / Seniors

Psychological First Aid pocket guide

Red Cross
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

This booklet is not intended to replace proper Psychological First Aid training.

Visit Psychological First Aid pocket guide

More Information:

Adults / Seniors

Therapy Assistance Online (TAO)

Therapy Assistance Online
This tool is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Tool Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the tool provider.

Online library of engaging, interactive programs to learn life skills and to help you bounce back from disappointments or stumbling blocks in life. As you watch videos and engage with our interactive components, you'll gain the knowledge, self...

Visit Therapy Assistance Online (TAO)

More Information:

Adults / Seniors / Youth

27 Program(s)

Nova Scotia Brotherhood Initiative

Nova Scotia Brotherhood Initiative is a free program for Black men to access health care in the community to improve overall health and wellbeing. A team of health care professionals provide culturally appropriate primary medical care plus health and...

Adults / Seniors
Black, African Nova Scotian

Access Wellness Nova Scotia

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Access Wellness is a free single-session supportive counselling service for individuals, couples or families. 

Sessions can be held over the phone, online with video, or in-person. People can speak with a qualified professional and learn strategies...

Adults / Seniors / Youth

Peer Support Phone Service

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Peer Support Phone Service is a toll-free, non-crisis, province wide service, available to all Nova Scotians 18 years of age or older.  It is staffed by trained peer supporters, who have personal or family-based lived experience with mental...

Adults / Seniors

Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq - Mental Wellness Team

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Union of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Mental Wellness Team provides case management and service navigation for First Nations persons of all ages seeking mental wellness services.

We work in collaboration with relevant community and provincial...

Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of their residential school experience. Call 1-866-925-4419
There are no fees associated with use and this service is...

Adults / Seniors
First Nations, Indigenous

Canadian Mental Health Association - Colchester East Hants Branch

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Colchester East Hants Branch provides public education, advocacy, and a resource center to support the resiliency and recovery of people...

Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Halifax-Dartmouth Branch

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Halifax-Dartmouth Branch works at the community level and facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve...

Adults / Seniors

Canadian Mental Health Association - Nova Scotia Division

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Canadian Mental Health Associations in Nova Scotia are the oldest community-based mental health and addictions charitable organizations in the province, founded in 1908. The CMHA...

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Adults / Seniors

Healthy Minds Cooperative

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Healthy Minds Cooperative is an innovative mental health cooperative that provides a variety of peer-based services to people with lived experience of mental health issues and to...

Adults / Seniors

Hope for Wellness HelpLine

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

The Hope for Wellness HelpLine offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. Experienced and culturally competent...

Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Eskasoni Mental Health

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Eskasoni Mental Health Services (EMHS) provides a wide range of services to the Mi’kmaq people of Eskasoni, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. The Tui'kn Residential School Survivor Team...

Adults / Seniors / Youth
First Nations, Indigenous

Caregivers Nova Scotia

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Caregivers Nova Scotia provides free programs, services, information, and advocacy for family and friend caregivers. We are dedicated to providing recognition and practical assistance to friends and family giving care.

Adults / Seniors
Caregiver, Family

Kids Help Phone

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7, national support service. We offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young...

Children / Youth

211

211
This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

211 is a free, confidential information and referral service that can connect you to thousands of programs and services offered by local community groups, nonprofits and government departments across Nova Scotia, 24/7.

Adults / Children / Seniors / Youth

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services - Mental Health Programs and Services

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) is responsible for administering Non-Public Property (NPP) on behalf of the Chief of the Defence Staff and for delivering...

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Veterans Affairs Canada Assistance Service

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Veterans Affairs provide targeted services and benefits to improve well-being including support and services related to your physical and mental health and wellness.The VAC...

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

Phoenix Centre for Youth

This service is not administered by Nova Scotia Health Authority. Service Information may be incorrect and/or out of date. Confirm details with the service provider.

Phoenix Centre for Youth is a walk-in centre that helps youth ages 12-24 years who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless in their day-to-day lives. Services offered are...

Adults / Youth

Health Psychology

Health Psychology offers psychological interventions for those with chronic and acute health conditions. The main focus is on the patient's mental and emotional reaction to an illness or their recovery from an illness.

Adults

Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury (OSI) Clinic

The Nova Scotia Operational Stress Injury Clinic (NSOSIC) belongs to a national network of OSI Clinics funded by Veterans Affairs Canada. The clinic provides mental health...

Adults / Seniors
Canadian Forces, RCMP

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