What is Grief?
Grief is a series of emotions that people feel when they have experienced a loss in their lives. It is something that everyone experiences. The death of a loved one, a divorce, losing a job, the end of a relationship, or even just entering a new phase of life can trigger feelings of grief.
There are five stages of grief that everyone goes through when they are mourning something or someone. These stages were first named and identified by Elizabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler.
How long does grief last? It depends on the individual, the circumstance and on how hard the loss hits them. The process of grieving is different for each person. Some people will cycle quickly through the stages of grief but other may take a long time to move through those stages. People also may go through one stage quickly but return over and over again to another stage. Feeling lost and scared is a normal part of the grieving process. Grief counselling can help if you feel like you are stuck in one of the stages of grief and need help.
The Five Stages Of Grief
The first stage of grief is denial. Denial happens when something causes a major loss in someone’s life. A death of a loved one, or a beloved pet, can trigger denial. So can losing a job, or having a romantic partner break up with you. When someone is in denial they act normally and continue to act like their marriage isn’t breaking up, or their relative didn’t just die, or they weren’t in a major car accident, or their pet didn’t pass away. Someone that is in denial is not able to fully comprehend the loss that they have suffered.
The second stage of grief is Anger. Anger can mean anger at the situation, or anger at the person who has left you or let you down in some way, or anger at a higher power for allowing the loss to occur in the first place. Anger is one of the stages where people often get stuck in their emotions. Professional grief counselling can help anyone that is stuck in one particular stage of grief move forward.
Bargaining is the stage of grief where people make frequent “If only” statements like:
If only I had gotten my dog medical attention sooner.
If only my mother had kept that doctor’s appointment.
If only I had driven down another street.
But those “If only” statements are really based in feelings of guilt about whatever occurred. Feeling guilt about a loss even if you didn’t cause it is a totally normal part of the grieving process. If you’re having trouble letting go of feeling guilty talking to a professional grief counsellor may be able to help you see that what happened wasn’t your fault.
Depression associated with grief is acute depression that is intense but doesn’t last very long. If you have chronic depression you can still suffer from intense bouts of acute depression. When you hit the depression stage of grief self care is very important for healing. Making sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep and eating a healthy diet should be priorities when you are suffering from depression.
The last stage of grief, acceptance, means finally accepting your loss. You may still be mourning but you have accepted that the loss occurred and that it wasn’t your fault and that you need to go on with your life. Some people reach acceptance really quickly but for other people it can years to get to this stage.
How To Deal With Grief
It doesn’t matter what type of loss you are grieving when it comes to dealing with grief. The bereavement definition and the mourning definition are very similar because they are both part of the grieving process. Any loss can trigger intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and fear because every loss will change the direction of the rest of your life. If you are dealing with grief there are some things that you can do to help make the journey to acceptance easier like:
Talk To A Professional
Getting professional counseling is a very smart thing to do when you’re grieving. Having a safe space to talk about your loss will help you move through the stages of grief.
Take Care Of Yourself
Often when dealing with a loss people let their self care slide because they are too sad or because they feel like they don’t deserve care and love. But everyone deserves care and love. So make yourself nutritious meals. Drink plenty of water and herbal tea. Get as much sleep and rest as possible. Don’t skip your regular exercise. And give yourself plenty of time to grieve.