The Stages of Grief

It used to be that you got to wear your grief, in the form of black, for a year after your loved one died. It was a shield and a protection for those going through the grieving process. Everyone would see the black and know that you had lost someone close to you and would give you the time you needed to grieve. We know live in a time where you no longer wear black for a year of mourning, within weeks people forget that you have suffered great lost. It seem like everyone wants you to pick up and keep going or get over it already. The problem is that grief takes time and it has many feeling that go with it.

Some say that there are 5 stages of grief while others say that there are 7 or only 3. All I know is that I am feeling them. They are not a yard stick that you can use to measure how close you are to being over your grief because you don’t always experience them in order and you sometime get stuck on some while other you fly right through. I have gone through what different people have said about the stages of grief and this is my list:

  1. SHOCK, NUMBNESS AND DENIAL – You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks. This is how I dealt with the week leading up to my grandma’s death and the month following it. If I stayed in the numb-denial mode I didn’t have to feel the pain. I was going through the motions but nothing really seemed real. Part of me is still stuck in this stage, because as long as I don’t go to grandma’s house she doesn’t really feel gone.
  2. PAIN AND YEARNING – As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. The painful realization of the loss hits full-force and you will yearn deeply for your lost loved one. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.  I have been having sobbing spells in the middle of the night for weeks now; it feels like my heart is breaking into a thousand pieces and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I yearn for my Grandma and when I realize I can no longer have her; I yearn for my old ways of dealing with pain – cutting, alcohol and disassociation.
  3. ANGER – Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion. You may rail against fate, questioning “Why me?” Everything and everyone makes me mad. I’m anger at everyone and nothing. Other issues I have with being angry are bleeding over into this.
  4. DEPRESSION, SADNESS AND WITHDRAWAL – The storm of intense emotions of the second stage gives way to a period of heavy sadness, silence and withdrawal from family and friends.  This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving. During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair. Already those around me are pressing for me to move on and away from my grief when all I really want is to be left alone with it. This of course is making me angry.
  5. ACCEPTANCE AND MOVING ON-The final phase is to let go of the need for the lost loved one and to move on with your life. Sadness will lessen greatly, and new interests will gradually occupy your thoughts more and more, crowding out the misery and desolation. The final stage is when you “pull your life back together.  During this, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness, but finding a way forward. The last stage I haven’t hit yet, because I am too busy dealing with the other stages.
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