What does grief feel like?

Grief to me feels like this giant gaping hole in your heart.  My heart feels physically “heavy”.  I feel a strong sense of longing.
Roxanne Noddin
Mother of Jacob

Grief feels like hell burning inside my veins. The burden is very heavy and strong. My chest physically hurt from the loss of Cheyenne. It’s a pain that is very intense. For awhile I was in shock and I was numb for the first year of Cheyenne’s death, then the second year I was able to feel more. It hurt like crazy. Because of the way Cheyenne died, I panicked a lot afterward thinking something else bad was going to happen.
Linda Kaiser
Mother of Cheyenne

At first the pain is completely unbearable and almost too painful to breathe. It’s like your heart is broken and someone is sitting on your chest. You feel as though you can’t go on with the pain forever. But eventually that intense pain gets better. Now it’s been 5 years and the pain is always there, but not as unbearable. I can breathe again. Every once in a while a memory or day will just hit me and the intense pain is back. I have a hard time breathing again, but it doesn’t last as long anymore.
Brandy Cain
Mother of Mikalya

Because grief is handled differently be each individual, I can only share how I felt when grieving for my 6 year old. It felt like my heart was heavy and I all I wanted more than anything in this world was all of it to be a nightmare. I felt like that every morning for 6 months.
Diana Parker
Mother of Tyanna Lyra Parker – 6 1/2 when she died in November 2000 

To me grief feels like a roller coaster that can take you into the depths of Hell and back again. It feels like someone has bound your heart and lungs in wire and at their mercy they can tighten that wire or loosen it. That tightening is what I feel on my bad days, and the lessening is when I think of him and I smile. Sometimes it feels like I am bound so tightly in wire that I’m not sure if I can get one breath in, or that I cry any more tears and that is when I pray. No one can say exactly what grief feels like, because we are different and we all grieve differently. The hardest part of my grief has been to look into the eyes of my nieces and nephews and see their pain, that alone is whole other type of grieving, and that is when that roller coaster plunges into to hell.
Jeni Taylor
Mother of Cylis Taylor

For me, it felt like tidal waves of different emotions. One minute I would feel as though I couldn’t breathe and I would plummet into a panic attack unable to imagine that our Kaeli was no longer here with us. I felt completely unable to imagine a future without her. The next moment I was furious with everyone. I would find myself furious with the people arguing about what color tile to put in their master bath at the home improvement store. I was angry with myself, with my surviving children, with God. I was so angry that she was gone…it wasn’t fair…and I found myself raging at the universe. The next moment I was broken into a million pieces. I felt nothing but pain…enormous, heart rending pain. I would cry until it was hard to imagine that there was any water left in my body or any hurt left in my soul. But there was. And finally, I felt guilt. Horrific, suffocating guilt. Why didn’t I know? Where was my mother’s intuition? How could she have died in a room down the hall and I was completely unaware?
Dana Graham
Mother of Kaeli

The grief I felt when Brooke died, wasn’t like any grief I’ve ever encountered before. I lost my mom, my sister, and helped my husband through the loss of his mom and 2 younger brothers. But this was different…much different. This wasn’t happening! It felt as though someone had put a knife in the pit of my stomach, and had taken out my heart. All at once I was filled with sadness, heartache, grief, and an insurmountable feeling of loss like nothing else before. But there was also the anger. Anger at whom at the time, I didn’t know, but now do. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or think. This was a child, MY 3 year old granddaughter, who I would never see on this earth again!
Cathy
Grandmother of Brooke

Initially, the pain felt like a huge elephant pressing on my chest. You’re in shock, and it seems to take literal effort to breathe. It is cyclical…meaning that even years later, a new wave hits you, sometimes unexpectedly and in reaction to something seemingly innocuous. That is what grief “feels” like to me.
Michelle Reed
Mother of Nicky