Grief and Loss
Grief and Loss is something that we all experience at some point in our lives. There's nothing more heartbreaking than losing a loved one. However, grief and loss can also be experienced as a result of losing a job, a pet, a miscarriage, freedom, a home, income, divorce, and even the loss of a limb or bodily function, loss of a cherished dream, or a skill you once mastered. All of us respond to grief differently. Some individuals are more outward, so they may cry, scream, and even respond in an aggressive manner. Some individuals are more inward with how they manage a loss; those individuals may become depressed, overeat, oversleep, isolate themselves, etc. No matter the specific ways that you deal with loss research shows there's a specific process that we all experience as we are dealing with a loss.
This process is called The Five Stages of Grief, first introduced by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. The stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. The stages are not chronological, they are not experienced in any particular order, and reactions to a loss are unique for everyone.
Denial- consciously or unconsciously refusing to accept the reality of what is happening because it is too painful and you are not ready to face the pain. "This is not happening to me"
Anger-Once denial has been overcome, anger is often the next emotion. Anger is a step towards health because you are starting to understand the reality of the situation. "Why did this have to happen to me? Who is to blame for this? Me, family, friends, God, etc?"
Bargaining- a recognition of reality, it also involves a sort of grasping at desperation, based on the hope that maybe things can be different with divine intervention. "If only I would have ________" and/or "Make this not happen and I will _________."
Depression-a deep sadness. Sadness is an acknowledgement of the permanent change that has been brought into your life. The beginning of an understanding that you can’t have things the way they used to be ever again. This is the first move toward acceptance. "I am too sad to do anything."
Acceptance- denial, bargaining, anger, and sadness are all a part of achieving acceptance. Acceptance is the acknowledgement that you have done all you can, and that now you must find a way to live your life in order to survive and thrive. Acceptance also acknowledges that there are some things in this world that we have no control over. "I am at peace with what has happened and with what is coming."
Although death is a part of life, it is never easy to deal with when we lose someone we love. May the loved ones that we have lost rest in peace and may you find solace during your grieving time. Please do not be afraid to reach out to someone you trust and/or a professional if you need additional resources to cope with the loss in your life.