If you haven’t already, you will experience the loss of a loved one. How you deal with this loss affects your life as well as those around you. By understanding the stages of grief you might better be able to cope with the loss or help others through their loss.
1. Shock and Denial- Because death usually comes suddenly you will be shocked with the news. You might be saying to yourself “I can’t believe it”. Denying the loss will provide temporary relief from the pain.
2. Pain and Guilt- When the initial shock wears off you will feel the pain of your loss. It’s okay to let yourself cry. Let it all out and feel it fully. Hiding it and holding it in will only prolong your recovery and your pain. It can lead to dangerous habits of drug and alcohol abuse too. During this stage you might also feel guilt over the things you didn’t do or things you did and wish you could change. Let it go. You can’t change the past; you can only look forward to the future.
3. Anger- This emotion often brings us out of the pain and guilt phase. It’s hard to feel anything else if you are angry. You may blame others or yourself for the death.
4. Depression- as the anger settles you may realize how great a loss you have suffered. This may lead to isolation. You will remember all that you had together. Although this is a normal stage of grief, if you find you or another loved one remain in this stage for a prolonged amount of time, you may need medical help to overcome the depression. How long someone remains in this stage varies. Use your best judgment.
5. Reconciliation and hope- As you accept the loss you can slowly begin to gain balance in your life. Your depression will lift and you can begin to look to the future. You begin to make new plans. You realize you can move on and live and you do.
Whenever I find myself struggling I just remind myself of something my mother used to tell me, “this too shall pass.”