After experiencing a loss, we need time to process our grief.
As badly as we want to skip these stages, we can’t just bypass grief. And even if we could, it wouldn’t be worth it in the long run. After we grieve, we often come out the other side feeling more resilient, with an increased appreciation for the beauty of life.
Yes, we’ve been hurt, and our lives will never be the same without the people we’ve lost. But to suffer a loss means that we have loved deeply, and nothing is more important in life than loving relationships.
Is there anything that can make the grieving process easier? Understanding how it works can ease some of the pain. Here’s a basic breakdown of the five stages of grief—you can experience them in any order, but preparing yourself can make it more bearable.
At first, you might be unable to comprehend or accept what’s happening. The news that your loved one is dying, or has already passed away, can be so shocking that you refuse to truly acknowledge what’s happening.
You may even feel like you’re having a nightmare and try to avoid being around your friends and family because doing so would force you to face reality. This approach is a defense mechanism intended to numb your emotions.
You might react negatively to people who try to help you. There’s a chance you’ll lash out at your loved ones. You know that it’s unfair, but it’s common to experience anger towards the person who died. Rationally, you know it’s not their fault. But you can’t help asking, “How could you leave me?”
When you’re experiencing this phase, it’s normal to seek out someone to blame for your loss. The thought that it was random is unacceptable.
You may catch yourself using phrases like, “If only I had done this,” “I would do anything to have them back,” or even, “If I can have them back, I’ll never do ___ again.” This response is all part of the bargaining phase.
For religious or spiritual people, this often involves frustration towards a higher power. Even though you may know that nothing will bring your loved one back, you wish that you could make some kind of deal with God to have them home again.
Depression doesn’t have one root cause. Sometimes, it seems to come out of nowhere, but sometimes, it’s because we’ve experienced something that has shaken us to our core.
When you’re grieving your loved one’s passing, it’s completely normal to feel depressed. You might feel a sense of heavy, overwhelming sadness that makes it hard to get through a typical day. You may neglect your responsibilities, feeling that they no longer matter in the wake of your loved one’s death.
It can take some people longer than others to reach the acceptance stage after losing a loved one, and there can be some confusion over what “acceptance” really means in regards to grief.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that you stop missing your loved one, or that you never think about them. It doesn’t mean that you ignore your feelings of grief and sadness when they do bubble up.
Acceptance means that you hold a special place for them in your heart and remember them fondly. You’ll never stop missing them, but you’ve made peace with the fact that they’re gone. Perhaps you’ve found a way to carry on their legacy and find a deeper meaning in their absence.
Are you grieving the loss of a loved one and need more support during this time? Contact us today at (623) 680-3486 or text 623 688-5115to discuss how grief therapy at our Scottsdale, Biltmore/Arcadia, or North Phoenix counseling centers can help.