Grief is a universal emotion, yet everyone’s grief is their own. Until Elizabeth Kubler-Ross did her study on the stages of grief, it was considered simple. I found her advice and insights of tremendous help when dealing with my own loss.
She found there are five stages to grief-each distinct-each part of the process of living through this powerful emotion. I suggest everyone read her books.
Each person deals with grief differently. The five stages are the same.
Stage One is DENIAL:
Denial helps us to survive the loss. The world is meaningless and overwhelming. Life doesn’t make sense. You are in a state of denial. Numb, you wonder how you can go on. You try to simply get through each day. Denial helps you to cope and makes survival possible. Denial is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. Once you start to question you’re belief you are ready for the next step.
Stage Two Is Anger:
Anger is a necessary stage. You need to feel that anger. Anger is limitless. The target can be friends, the doctors, family, yourself and your loved one who died, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this?
Stage three is BARGAINING:
In bargaining, you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God,” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.” Afterwards, bargaining changes. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others? Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?”
“If only…” or “What if…” We want to return to what was; we want our loved one back. We want to find the cancer sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only. Guilt is bargaining’s partner. You will do anything not to feel the pain. You remain in the past, trying to negotiate.
People often think of that grief lasts weeks or months, but the stages are feelings that can last for minutes or hours. Mine lasted for years. You do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. You can bounce from one, then another and back again.
Stage Four is DEPRESSION:
After bargaining, empty feelings present themselves, and grief is deeper than we ever imagined. Depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. You withdraw in a fog of intense sadness.
The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response.
Stage Five is ACCEPTANCE:
Don’t confuse acceptance with being “all right” or “OK”. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality. Your loved one is physically gone and this new reality is permanent and eventually you accept it.
This is a very simple explanation. For those struggling with grief, there are options like counseling, support or a variety of books on the subject. I hope if you are near a person suffering that this short essay will help you to understand.
I’ve followed my own advice and gone for grief counseling, read the books and had help from my friends and family. Life does go on.
Just remember, your grief is an unique as you are.
Please visit me at http://www.barbaraedwards.net