Be Your Own Healer: Understanding the Stages of Grief
“Grief never ends… but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith… It is the price of love”
Grief is one of those emotions that you can deal with in the best manner with your own power and will. The external sources of support will be there but the ultimate healer of your grief is YOU! In order to embrace this power from within it is important to accept that grief is not your whole life; it is a rough patch of life.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the death-and-dying expert in 1969 tried to put this emotion in a cycle of phases that each one of us is likely to experience. However, this cycle is subject to individual variation.
Disclaimer: This grief cycle represents a generic pattern of reactions that we demonstrate when a tragic news is disclosed. But, we don’t necessarily move through these stages one at a time, in a step by step or linear manner. In fact we tend to move around between the stages.
How can grief stages help me?
Grief is a very personal emotion that definitely does not follow a linear or neat schedule. But, knowing what stage or phase of grief you are dealing with creates self-awareness and can help you deal with your emotions accordingly.
Understanding the stages of Grief
Denial “This can’t be happening to me”
The grief comes unexpectedly in our lives, which calls for time to absorb and understand exactly what has happened. Contrary to the name, this stage is not about inability to accept the loss that has taken place but, is rather a coping mechanism that helps us to pace our feelings of grief. Once you start absorbing the news and begin to process it, the emotions that were being denied so far will come to life.
Anger “ Why is this happening?”
When the reality of the loss starts coming to your conscious the associated emotions will too start hitting your gut. But, instead of showing these emotions as you experience them anger hides them. As a result, you may feel redirect this anger at other people or even inanimate objects. With time, the anger starts to subside and rational thinking may swipe in, allowing you to feel the emotions you were keeping at the bay for now.
Bargaining “If only I worked harder they would have kept me”
This stage is predominantly marked with “If” statements, giving your feelings of vulnerability a way to demonstrate themselves. We find ourselves bargaining in various contexts like- ‘God, if you will let my pet live I will spend more time with him’ or ‘If only I took him to doctor earlier…’ The reason behind this bargaining is to avoid the current pain. Another aspect of this stage is focusing on self regrets and faults associated with our interactions with the person we have lost.
Depression “I am too drained to do anything”
Often referred to as a quiet stage of grief unlike anger and bargaining (the active stages) is the starting point to look at reality and accept the present situation. Certain important behavioral changes of this stage are- moving inward, being less sociable, talking less about our pain to others, feeling overwhelmed overall. However, we start working with these emotions and behavior in a healthy manner as compared to the previous ones.
Acceptance “I am going to be okay”
As the word explains itself you start accepting the loss by this time. It doesn’t ask to move past the loss or grief; rather this stage is marked by your understanding of the grief and its meaning in your life. It is a time to re-enter reality, calling forth adjustment and readjustment in the current life. Basically, you find your way forward, move on it, and grow above the loss.
The reason why knowing and understanding these stages is important to start the healing process is that it makes you realize that everyone has their own journey of grief and you have your own. It allows you to accept what you are going through thus aiding in vetting out your feelings.
Advice: If the grief persists or you need help coping with these feelings then, seeking mental health advice is recommended. This will further give you a sense of assurance to deal with this heavy emotion.
Little by little we let go of loss… but never of love…
More Power to You…
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