Your Grief. Your Process. Moving Through the Stages
August 23, 2021

 

If you are like most people, you don’t talk much about grief throughout your lifetime. People don’t think much about grief until they experience it. And, at some point, we will all experience it.  

What is grief? What does it mean? How does it work? Why do we have to feel it? Grief is a process of learning to come to terms with life and with ourselves in a new way. It is a time of learning as we make many adjustments internally, externally, and spiritually. We feel grief because we feel love. 

It would be nice if you had a choice. Suppose you could wake up one day and say, “As of today, I will never feel grief in my life,” and have it be so. But the only way that can happen is if you have no feelings at all. 

Death itself is not a process; it is an event. It may seem that the soulful pain associated with it will last forever. But with time and sometimes with help processing your feelings, the pain will ease. 

Processing grief is an individual experience. Everyone takes the journey, but not in the same space of time or direction. You will go through a 5-stage process as you grieve, many of which overlap or occur together. 

The 5-stage process of grief is not meant to be a study about bereavement and grief but merely a set of isolated feelings that can be discussed clearly.

5 Stages of Grief 

Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross developed the theory that we go through five distinct stages of grief after losing a loved one. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, the last stage of acceptance. 

Grief is a natural human experience, and it changes you. But it doesn’t mean you are less capable of living a fulfilling, happy life.

Denial 

The first stage of grief is denial or shock. It helps you lessen the impact of the overwhelming pain of loss. As you slowly process the reality of your loss, you are also trying to survive the emotional pain. You may feel disbelief that this person is gone, especially if you had a recent interaction with them.

During this stage, your reality is turned upside down. It will take some time for your mind to adjust to this new reality. You may spend time thinking about shared experiences with that person, and you may wonder how you will move forward in life without this person. 

There is a lot of information to absorb when someone dies. Denial attempts to slow this process and help you through it one step at a time. 

Anger 

Anger is a common emotion to experience during the bereavement period. You may be angry that they were careless or that they got sick or that they left you, or perhaps all three. You will experience extreme emotional fluctuations and discomfort, and anger is a common emotional outlet. 

It is easier for many people to feel angry rather than admit they are scared. Anger allows you to express emotion with less fear of judgment. Unfortunately, anger can be perceived as making you unapproachable in the moments you need comfort and connection most. It is ok to reach out to others even in moments of anger. 

Bargaining 

In a desperate attempt to alleviate or minimize the pain you are experiencing, you may try to bargain by making commitments or promises. 

For example, 

  • “God, if you will just make him better, I will never drink again.”
  • “I will be a better person and help others if you let him live.”
  • “Please don’t take him from me. I promise I will {insert promise}.

Bargaining for a loved one’s life is usually directed at a higher power or something bigger than yourself in which you believe your influence can change the outcome. 

Bargaining gives you a perceived sense of control over something that feels overwhelmingly out of control. That feeling of helplessness is hard to endure. During this time, you will often focus on improving your faults, but you may also look back at your interactions with this person and think of times you may have caused them pain. This is a normal reaction. 

Depression 

Once you begin to settle into the reality that your loved one is gone and not coming back, you slowly start to look at your present situation. You are now facing what is happening, and the pain is unavoidable.

Without the adrenaline of the panic, once the emotional fog begins to clear, the sadness grows. You may be less sociable and not feel like reaching out to others to help you with what you are going through. 

Dealing with the depression stage of grief can be extremely isolating, and it is usually a time you get stuck. Seeing a therapist specializing in grief can help you process your emotions and move on to a better space. 

Acceptance 

Once you come to a place of acceptance, you no longer feel the acute pain of loss. You may still feel sadness, but you see the reality of your situation and are not trying to make it something different. 

You are learning to cope as you make your way through life in new and different ways. 

Remember, your pain is unique to you. Your relationship with the person you lost is special and different than anyone else’s. Your process of learning to live life without them is also unique and however it happens, is acceptable. 

Remove any expectations of how you think you should be feeling, and accept that how you feel and what you do during this time is normal for you. Talking through your emotions with a professional can also help alleviate your fear and help you process your grief. 

Talk with a professional today. 

References

Jodi Clarke MA, L. (2021, February 12). The Five Stages of Grief; Learning about emotions after loss can help us heal. Retrieved from verywell mind: https://www.verywellmind.com/five-stages-of-grief-4175361

Jr., J. H. (2017, March 14). STAGES OF GRIEF: THE 7 STAGES OF GRIEF EXPLAINED. Retrieved from Gateway: https://gatewaycounseling.com/7-stages-of-grief-explained/

PhD, C. G. (2021, May 4). The Five Stages of Grief; An Examination of the Kubler-Ross Model. Retrieved from PSYCOM: https://www.psycom.net/depression.central.grief.html

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    We’re here for you. Fill out the contact form below, and we’ll be in touch to book a free intro call and book your first session. You may also call (214) 436-2272.

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