The Different Stages of Grief
Grief is the normal response for when a person loses something or someone that is extremely important to them. A person suffering from grief may feel many different emotions that can include loneliness and sadness. They also might feel different emotions for a variety of different reasons. It can be caused by losing a job when a relationship has ended or one a loved one has died. Grief can also be felt when someone has a huge life change, suffers from a chronic illness, or moving to an unfamiliar area.
Not all people grieve in their own way. However, if you learn to understand the emotions you are feeling, look for support and take care of yourself, it is possible to heal from the loss.
Different Stages of Grief
The feelings that come with grief can happen in different phases as you begin to come to terms with the loss you’ve experienced. You need to be honest with yourself because you really can’t actually control the process of grief. This is why it’s very important to know what the reasons are for what you might be feeling. Professionals have identified the five most common stages in the process of grief:
- Denial – It is perfectly normal to think that your loss hasn’t really happened. Often you will feel numb or shocked at the loss. You need to realize that this feeling is just temporary and it is a way that your mind reacts to the overwhelming emotions you might be feeling. Denial is your minds defense mechanism.
- Anger – Once the reality of your loss starts to set in, you then are faced with the actual pain of the loss. You could feel helpless and even frustrated by it. Then this will most often turn into anger. This anger often can be directed toward other people in your life, angry at God, or just angry at life. It’s also perfectly normal to be angry at the person that left you or died.
- Bargaining – During this phase of grief, often you’ll find yourself dwelling on what you may have been able to do to have prevented this loss. Most common thoughts can often be “What if I had done this or that?” or “If only I had done this or that.” Sometimes people will often try to make a deal with God over their loss.
- Depression – Once you start to understand the loss and how it is affecting your life a sadness will often set in and then this most often leads to depression. Some of the signs that you’re depressed often include a lot of crying, inability to sleep, lack of appetite. You also may feel regretful, lonely, and overwhelmed by the loss.
- Acceptance – This is usually the last phase of grief. This is when you finally accept the truth and reality of the loss in your life. You finally realize that this is something that simply can’t be changed. You more than likely will still have sad feelings about it but you are finally at the stage where you feel you can move on with your life.
All People Go Through the Same Phases
No matter who you are or what the loss is, each person will go through the same phases of grief, however, since each person is different, they are going to go through them in their own way and often go through the different phases in different orders. You might also swing back and forth between the different phases and you might even skip some stages totally. Also, it’s important to note that there will be reminders of the loss such as an anniversary, a song you enjoyed together, a birthday, the anniversary of their death, and so much more can actually cause the grief to return.
Is There a Normal Amount of Time to Mourn?
When it comes to grief, there really is no normal amount time for someone to go through the grieving process. The process of grief can depend on several different things that include personality, personal and spiritual beliefs, age and the kind of support you have. The kind of loss you are suffering can also factor in. For instance, your grief will more than likely last much longer if someone you love dies than if someone breaks off a relationship with you.
No matter how awful grief can make you feel, as time passes the sadness will ease. Eventually, you will be able to experience joy and happiness even with the grief still being present. Eventually, you’ll feel better and will be able to return to your normal daily activities.
How Do You Know You Need Help From a Professional?
There are some people who find their grief is overwhelming and does not get any better over time. Often this is because they are having difficulty in accepting their loss. Often times this is called “complicated grief”. If you are having great difficulty accepting a loss in your life it is recommended that you talk to a doctor especially if you are suffering from any of the things listed below:
- You are finding it difficult to keep up with your normal daily routine such as unable to go to work or even clean your own home.
- Feeling extremely depressed and it won’t go away.
- Start thinking that life just isn’t worth living.
- Thoughts of actually hurting yourself.
- Unable to stop blaming yourself for the loss.
Consider Seeking Help From a Therapist
If you are finding it difficult to cope with the grief of your loss you might want to seek the help of a therapist. A therapist will help you explore the emotions you are experiencing. They can also teach you some very important coping skills that can help you learn to manage the grief that you are experiencing. They can also help you with any depression you might be experiencing and they might even prescribe medication you help you feel much better.
All to often if a person is suffering from severe emotional pain it often is tempting to find a way to numb their feelings by drinking alcohol, taking illegal drugs, overeat or under eat or even become a workaholic. You need to be very careful with these temptations because they are just a temporary way to escape the grief. These things are not going to help you heal any faster or even feel better. In fact, they can lead to anxiety, more depression and sometimes can lead to addiction and even can lead to a total emotional breakdown.
Don’t Give Into the Temptations
Instead of giving into the temptations around you there are things you might want to consider trying. The following things that can help you to start healing from your loss and grief:
- Make sure to give yourself plenty of time during the grieving process. You should accept these feelings and know that they are a natural part of your grieving process.
- It’s important to talk to other people. It’s important that you take time out and spend it with family and friends. The last thing you want to do is to be isolated.
- It’s important that you make sure to take care of yourself while you are grieving. You should make sure to exercise, even if it’s just taking short walks. Eat food that’s good for you. Make sure to get lots of sleep. Take care of your health and try to stay energized.
- Make sure to get involved with the hobbies. Do activities that you have always enjoyed doing. These should be things that have brought you joy in the past.
- Finally, consider joining a support group. Often when you talk to others who are also going through grief it can help you feel much better. It can also help you feel a lot more connected.