Grieving is a natural response to loss, whether this loss be the death of a loved one, the ending of an important or meaningful relationship, losing a job, losing important items through theft or through disability with losing one’s independence.The different stages of grief include the following: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Although there are five set stages of grief, the grieving path is not linear. The individual grieving can jump from one stage to another, and even skipping an entire stage in between, showing the grieving process is different for everyone. Though grieving is different for everyone, if they take care of themselves and their emotions, as well as seek out help – the individual can heal over time at their own pace.
There are guides to help an individual struggling with their grieving process, which overall explain two key components when dealing with grief:
- It is important when grieving to seek support for your grief, whether that be through friends, family, a support group or therapist.
- It is also important to take care of yourself, whether that be your physical or mental health. This would include facing your feelings, expressing these feelings in a tangible way, planning for grief “triggers” like holidays or anniversaries, and looking after your physical health – avoiding alcohol or drugs to numb the pain or grief.
As Elizabeth Kübler-Ross explains with the five stages of grief,
“They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”
In an article from Hospice Foundation of America describes the grieving for an individual,
“Instead of a series of stages, we might also think of the grieving process as a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, highs and lows. Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning, the lows may be deeper and longer. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss.”
Grieving is a difficult process that every individual will have to face in their lifetime, and the sadness that comes with grief will never completely disappear – but will heal with time. Although that is not always the case, if the pain of grief is so severe that it keeps the individual from resuming their everyday life – this could be a case of complicated grief. Complicated grief is described as feelings of loss that don’t improve even after time passes, painful emotions are so consuming that the individual has trouble resuming life. It is recommended that if an individual is unable to move through the stages of grief more than a year after a loss, to seek professional help to reclaim a sense of acceptance and begin healing.
To read more information about long term grief, complicated grief, or seeking help: