Anyone who experiences a type of loss will go through a period of bereavement and grief that can deeply affect their well-being. Grief is a difficult process but one that is inevitable and necessary to go through in order to move on from the loss of the loved one and return to normal life. When people experience grief they are going through a gateway that will ultimately allow them to accept their loss and be at peace.
Most people are familiar with the five stages of grief that are considered a natural progression of emotions that allow people to cope with a serious loss. People tend to move through the stages at a different pace and for many individuals, their feelings of grief can last years. The stages may occur through various phases of their lives over a long period of time.
The Five Stages of Grief
The first phase of grief can occur immediately after a person has passed away or over the course of a long illness until they are gone. Denial is simply a coping mechanism that allows someone to cope with a painful loss. During this stage people often experience a sense of numbness and are in a state of shock.
The reason people must go through denial is so that they are not overwhelmed with grief and they can continue living their lives without being paralyzed by emotional pain. People must deny their feelings for a period of time as they go through the process of accepting that the loss has taken place and that the loved one is gone.
Although anger can be a difficult emotion for many people, it is an important part of the healing process. It is natural to feel angry that someone you love has been taken from you and you have to go through this painful experience when others don’t. Someone who is grieving might feel angry at family members, friends, doctors or even at God.
Beneath the feelings of anger is pain but it will take time to be able to feel the emotions underneath the surface. You may feel anger at your loved one for abandoning you or at people around you that aren’t providing the kind of sympathy you expect. Anger provides a structure that helps make sense of the ocean of emotions that we face when we are grieving.
People may go through a phase of bargaining before their loved one passes away, after or both. Bargaining can be a way to try to control what has happened and take matters into your own hands. You might think if you try to be a better person and please God through being good that your loved one will come back.
When people go through the bargaining stage they will think of all kinds of scenarios in which they could have prevented the death. People might feel guilty in this stage and focus their thoughts on “what if” ideas.
Once a person who is grieving recognizes that there is nothing they can do to change the events of the loss, they will become more present and experience feelings of depression. People sometimes think we should never have go through depression but as part of the grieving process it is normal and very necessary. Sadness and emptiness after a significant loss can help you begin to acknowledge the death and the effect it has had on you.
Depression during the grieving process can cause people to become withdrawn and they sometimes isolate themselves as they experience their sadness. They might not act like their usual self and the people around them need to understand that this depression is a natural progression after what they have been through.
After the long road of grief, the final stage is a much more manageable feeling of acceptance. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is okay with the loss or doesn’t ever feel sad or miss their loved one. It simply means that they are able to accept the fact that they are gone and live their life now as their new reality.
Through acceptance, the bereaved begins to understand that the past is gone and forever changed so they must readjust. They begin to find ways to enjoy the present, embrace the people around them and evolve into their new life.
Even though grief can be natural process, it can also be painful and difficult to make it through alone. Talking with a therapist can help you understand how your grief is affecting you and you can also learn coping methods to better handle the process. If you are currently struggling with grief you can seek a qualified therapist, counselor or support group that can provide you with the help you need.