Understanding the Five Stages of Grief
Grief will be the hardest thing you will go through in life. It does not matter what your loss may be, it is not easy and grief unresolved may keep you in a constant state of emotions such as intense sadness, anger, loneliness, and that sinking feeling that life will never be the same again.
Grief is a natural response to any loss in our lives, but especially the death of a loved one. There’s a void in life, and the feeling of grief helps you try to figure out how to fill that void, and in these dark seasons, it is hard to find joy and positivity in life.
It is essential to recognize that each person deals with grief; differently, understanding emotions, taking care of yourself, and seeking support when necessary, you will be able to heal and move on with your life, even with the deepest pain, there is hope.
First and foremost, allow yourself to feel what you feel. It’s okay to cry, it’s all right to be angry, and it’s even reasonable to reminisce what you once had in your life. Do not rush through the process; allow yourself the time that you need to process through your emotions and never feel that you need to conform to what others think, this is your journey, at your pace and in your time.
Whatever loss you are facing, there are five distinct stages of grief; you may experience. These stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is essential to keep in mind that they may not occur in the same order and are not predictable. Each person’s journey is different, and you may go through all or some of them, and you may find yourself at any stage during your life, knowing the various stages can help you understand the emotions you may feel at any given time.
Understanding the five stages of grief
Stage 1: Denial:
Denial occurs at the initial time of loss when we refuse to believe what has happened. When you think ‘this cannot be happening,’ and where emotions such as shock or numbness set in. It is quite common, and a mental mechanism that helps us survives the loss. It is a way we deal with overwhelming emotions, such as hopelessness and despair. At this point, nothing makes sense, and we become numb to the world, this is our minds way of protecting us by only letting in so many feelings at one time.
Stage 2: Anger:
The second stage is anger, as reality settles in, you begin to realize the pain of that loss in your life. You may experience a variety of emotions such as frustration, helplessness, which can later turn into anger. You may direct these feelings towards other people, life itself, God, or even towards the person or thing you lost. These are all natural emotions. It is essential to recognize there may be irrational anger pointed at someone that is not even involved over something said or what may have happened during the early days of the loss.
Stage 3: Bargaining:
Bargaining is where you will begin to dwell on what you could’ve done to prevent the loss, and think of the ‘what ifs, what could have done differently, or how we/someone could have prevented it. You may attempt to bargain with God to give you back what you lost our attempt to negotiate a way out of the pain.
Stage 4: Depression:
You begin to feel extreme sadness and hopelessness. It occurs when you start to understand the loss and how it affects you. Be aware of the signs, which include crying, sleep issues, deep sadness, isolation, decreased appetite, and feelings such as regret, guilt, and loneliness. Just because you exhibit these signs while grieving does not mean you have depression; however, if you find yourself with any of these, you might have developed depression and should seek a professional diagnosis. If you feel suicidal immediately call 911.
Stage 5 Acceptance:
The final stage of grief when you finally accept the reality of your loss and that it cannot be changed. There is a difference between resignation and acceptance. Acceptance does not mean we forget or ignore our grief and loss. Instead, we accept our situation and begin to rebuild our lives, move forward, and focus on the memories. It may mean they have to change their lives, they need to learn a new normal, but sometimes this makes them feel like they are betraying their loved one, but that is where you help them understand it is not a bad thing. Helping them meeting new people and experiences is an excellent opportunity the help someone through this stage.
Now that you understand the stages of grief, It is essential to recognize that your life will not be the same. When we face grief, it is not a life we believe we can deal with, remember that no-one is walking in your shoes, do not let anyone tell you to get over it, or you should have moved on. This is the journey that you will process through in your time, and you do not have to have anyone dictate your life.
Some things you should consider is to give yourself time and know that grieving is an inevitable process, the suggestions below can help you as you walk through this journey.
1) Have a strong support network and reach out and talk to others about your feelings, whether it is friends and family or a therapist or grief coach.
2) Do not isolate yourself, as this makes it more difficult to heal and add to the loneliness you fee. It is okay to take it slow; however, this is a time where you need as much support as necessary.
3) Self-Care, this can be hard because, at this point, you may not care about anything, but it is essential to get out of bed, take a shower, brush your teeth. Also, focus on eating well try to get more protein and fewer carbohydrates in your system, which tend to give a slight burst of energy, but then you drop, and that can leave you feeling worse. Keep yourself hydrated, when we deprive the body of water we can become dehydrated which can make us tired. Try to get some exercise, especially if you can get outside the sunshine and a walk can help. You may even want to meditate, lay down on your bed, close your eyes, and breathe in and out slowly for 5 to 10 minutes can help reduce anxiety.
4) Journal your feelings, this may be hard, and I have said before you will most likely cry; however, it is a way to release your emotions positively.
Take baby steps if you must, but take care and be kind to yourself. Get out and try to get back into a routine; though it will not diminish your pain, it will keep your mind and body active and keeps you from isolating.
Finally, remember this is your journey, not one you care to travel; there is no time limit on your grief; there is no prescribed path, feelings, or way to grieve, each person will go down their road to healing, but there is hope.
One day the pain will decrease, and you will enjoy life again, though a different experience than you imaged and you will learn to find peace and move forward while keeping the memories alive and in your heart.