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Grief and the feelings that come with it

Grief, the natural process of emotional adjustment after experiencing a significant loss, is different for everyone. You might experience some or all of the feelings below:

  • Denial or disbelief: you may refuse to believe your injury is disabling or that life won’t be the same as it was before.
  • Anger: you may become angry and try to blame yourself or others for what has happened.
  • Sadness and helplessness: you might feel like giving up and try and isolate yourself from others.
  • Fear: you may begin to feel scared, anxious, or insecure – wondering what this means for your future.
  • Yearning: you may begin wishing you could go back in time or that things could be the way they used to be.

These feelings are natural responses to grief and it’s important to be kind on yourself as they come up. However, if you start to have feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and loss of interest in life it’s important to talk to your doctor as these are signs of depression.

Information on Health Navigator (external link)

Information on HealthEd (external link)

Dealing with grief

When you’re grieving an acquired disability there are many things you can do to help you cope.

Seek help from family and friends

As you grieve it’s important to seek help from family and friends. They can help by being available to talk, helping with daily tasks that you aren’t up to doing, spending time with you, and ensuring you get all the help you need as you adjust to your new reality.

Express your feelings creatively

As described on Help Guide, expressing your feelings in a creative or tangible way can help you process your grief. This will look different for everyone, but you might keep a journal about your experience, start a blog, write songs, or get into painting or drawing. Find something that works for you.

Advice about coping with grief and loss on Help Guide (external link)


If you're religious or spiritual, your faith can play an important part in dealing with your grief. Faith provides a perspective through which you can make sense of what has happened and move forward.

See a counsellor or therapist

Many people find speaking to a counsellor or therapist helpful in processing their grief. A qualified counsellor or therapist is trained in helping people process trauma and grief and can help you implement strategies and practices to overcome it.

Visit the talkingwords website for a directory of counsellors and therapists in New Zealand (external link)

Complimentary therapies

Complimentary therapies, as described by the Mental Health Foundation, are those that differ from conventional western medicine and that may be used to complement and support it. Complementary therapies you may like to try include:

  • Mindfulness
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Relaxation
  • Massage
  • Mirimiri
  • Aromatherapy

Learn more about complimentary therapies on the Mental Health Foundation website (external link)

Support groups and networks

Joining support groups and networks can help you process your grief by talking with and getting support from people who have had similar experiences.

Read our article on finding the right support group for you

Where to go for help with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts

Remember, you’re never alone. If you’re struggling with thoughts of depression, anxiety, or suicide reach out to one of the organisations listed below.

1737, Need to talk? (external link)  Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor

Lifeline (external link)  – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland

Youthline (external link)  – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email or online chat (external link)

Samaritans (external link)  – 0800 726 666

Suicide Crisis Helpline (external link)  – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

What's Up (external link)  – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily. (external link)  – or email or free text 5626

Anxiety New Zealand (external link)  - 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)

Rural Support Trust (external link) - 0800 787 254 (0800 RURAL HELP)

Yellow Brick Road (external link)  - 0800 732 825

Last updated on Tuesday, 28 November 2023

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