Grief is an emotional experience we are all likely to endure at some time in our lives. We may lose a loved one, a pet, or have a significant event like a divorce, job loss, or medical diagnosis, that can all lead to grief.
Unlike other emotions, grief is a bundle of feelings, which is why it is often referred to as a process. Anyone who has gone through grief knows that it often ebbs and flows – not just in the emotions, but through the variety of stages.
The Stages of Grief
Psychologists have identified 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Denial is the first stage and includes feelings of shock or disbelief. It’s when we are trying to understand the impact of the loss.
While it is the second stage, anger can surface and retreat throughout the process as time and circumstances can bring up the emotion anytime. We can be angry at the person, a higher being for allowing it, or even ourselves, leading to shame and depression.
Bargaining is when we try to change the reality of the situation. It often includes pleading or “negotiating” with a higher power, or questioning what we could have done to prevent it. This personal examination could help us come to acceptance, or can lead us into depression.
Depression has been described as an anger turned inward towards yourself. Not only may you feel negative feelings about yourself, you may feel the true depth of sadness around your loss. This can lead to changes in eating or sleeping habits, a resurrection of poor coping strategies, thoughts of hopelessness, and more. While you may feel that being alone is a good idea, it may be better to find someone to talk to who can help you with your feelings and coping.
Acceptance is the final stage of grief, but like anger or sadness, can come and go at any given time. It doesn’t mean you have necessarily competed the grieving process, but it is a strong indicator that you have move through it and are coming out the other side.
No One Grieves the Same
While there are stages, no one grieves the same way. Some will go through all the stages, while others may only experience one or two. Some may move through quickly, and others slowly. Some will create new habits or traditions in response to the loss, and others will simply appear to “move on”.
These are all acceptable forms of grieving, and in fact, creating a new normal is one of the best ways to integrate the change into your life and allow yourself to move forward.
Overall, it’s important to recognize your grief journey is your own, but that doesn’t mean you are alone. Reach out to family, friends, and/or a professional for help and support during your transition.
My life has been full of loss and resulting grief. It was not just becoming a widow in my early 20’s that brought me there either. A series of traumatic events seemed to grab me and pull me down like a tidal wave. But from that place, I made a decision to keep moving forward and in doing so, discovered that I am Flawed and (Still) Worthy.
I invite you to read my story of struggle, grief and ultimately redemption and self-love. Grab your copy on Amazon today.