The Grieving Process

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I have realised that the grieving/mourning process is something that we all go through at different times of life.  Be it with a loved one, relationship completion, a divorce, a loss of job or business, or the dying process of a loved and cared for being, human or animal.  The loss is felt in many ways and the length of time it takes is personal.

Grief1

We as humans will experience this many times over in a full life in various forms.  As children we start learning often by the loss of an animal friend which starts the learning process for what is to come later on.  Sometimes the process of learning when young with the loss of a young school friend or a parents divorce can create a very hard and damaging experience which for some, they never get over or fully recover.

The loss of a personal relationship can be harder in the aspects that the other person still being alive but out of reach whereas with a physical death, they are no longer assessable.  This in itself brings up other issues which need to be resolved too.

Wikapedia says:  Grief: The normal process of reacting to a loss. The loss may be physical (such as a death), social (such as divorce), or occupational (such as a job). Emotional reactions of grief can include anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness, and despair.

For me personally I have experienced all the above and worked through them all, with time.  I now find myself in the process once more needing to work though loss so that I can feel the joy of life totally again.  A process that takes time when you know you have lost what could or may have been.  The five stages of grief may all need to be worked through as they present, so that a new life without can be grown.  These stages of grief are universally accepted and experienced by anyone mourning or grieving for something that is no longer there.

Learning to regain and reinvent your identity after a loss of any kind can sometimes leave one lost as they struggle to find who they are themselves as an individual.  It is so easy to see oneself attached to another person, business or life that recreating into another mindset takes time and effort, that sometimes can be hard to bring forth when the loss is deeply embedded within.  This can often occur also in the case of personal health issues which can take time to heal before recreation can happen.  Loss of self takes time to work through too, as it needs energy and courage to create something new.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote a book in 1969 called “On Death and Dying” which proposed the five stages of normal grief.  This outlined the five stages, which can occur in any order, that happen prior to a peaceful acceptance being resolved.  Grieving takes time and we need, if possible, to make the time to allow this process to happen.  These five stages are:  denial, anger, bargaining, sadness/depression and acceptance.

A journalist Ruth Davis Konigsberg delved deeper into the Kulber-Ross stages of death and dying and wrote The Truth About Grief: The Myth of its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss”.  This book dispels the many pervasive myths about grief and loss that were proposed in ‘On Death and Dying”.

The physical death of a loved one gives us the opportunity to evaluate our own feelings of mortality.  Going through this process prior to a death, there appears to be a common thread that emerges:   As long as there is life, there is hope. As long as there is hope, there is life.  Once the death has become final, then the continuing on process must begin.

There is no particular order of these five stages below.  They are given here in the order they were first created.  These will show the griever (or people by-standing and supporting) where they are at in this grieving/mourning process.  It is inevitable that they will all happen in the right time.  It is very useful though if you use these stages as a guide on how you or someone else is progressing through your own grief.  If you are able to understand what and how this is happening, it will support one by giving a context to your own experiences.

We all grieve differently and there is no right or wrong.  Some are outwardly emotional and cry a lot and others go internal to process their own quiet way.  The important thing is to let someone experience their grief the way they need to for their own process and growth through this experience.  There are also times when someone just cannot move through all the stages and gets caught up in the process of grief.  This then leads to an unfulfilled life owing to the damage of the loss, whatever it happens to be.

Related: “As the tide comes in…”

I will outline the stages here briefly noting that they are in no particular order that this process through grieving will take.   Again they are, denial, anger, bargaining, sadness/depression and acceptance.

Often this process starts in denial and as I have learned through my own personal experience is the initial response usually as we want to block out the inevitable.  This is our defence mechanism that helps us to soften the outcome by masking reality.  It is normal for many to react this way especially as it is the realisation of an upcoming death/loss which is out of our own control.

As we process the denial and isolation and come to terms with it, anger will emerge with its pain.  For many this anger is so intense from such a deep level within the human psyche that it may be redirected onto others.  It may be aimed at family, friends, strangers or the world at large or the person who is causing this pain, whether they are alive or not.  Our own guilt of feeling anger often makes us angrier and we become engulfed in it.  Often this is the time when professional counselling is necessary to work through the anger before it totally destroys both self and maybe the other person, if they are still living.

As we feel helpless and vulnerable we need to regain control of our life and seek outside help in the process called bargaining.  We tend to think about the ‘what if we had …. ‘ or  ‘if only we …. ‘ etc. and at this time we look for a higher power to protect us from the painful reality of what has happened or been created.  We bargain with God, the universe, or something greater and unseen, for the outcome we personally want.

Finally we come to sadness/depression.  The sadness to the loss is total in itself.  It is the deep regret of what is lost forever.  Then there is depression, of which there are two types, associated with mourning.  The first one is around the loss that is associated with the experience.  With this type of depression both sadness and regret are predominate.  To support someone through this they may need helpful cooperation and kindness.  The second type is more subtle and usually private.  It is the preparation to separate and bid our loved one goodbye.  Sometimes all that is necessary is a hug.  If you feel that you want to see where you are in your process through grief and loss I suggest that you take a look at this quiz and see for yourself where you are at this moment in time.  This will help you understand if you are suffering from complicated grief.  This is maybe when you need some help to move to acceptance.  http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/grief-quiz.htm   For more information go to http://psychcentral.com/lib/types-of-depression/

The final process in grieving and loss is acceptance of what is and where you are at.  In this final stage you experience a withdrawal and calm.  You can build a new life, understanding that knowing that where there was love, will more than likely always be there but it no longer has taken over your life.

To be fully healed you need to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes to you.  The natural healing process cannot happen if you resist this it.  Be patient and allow it to happen in as gentle as way as possible.

 “When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”   Poet Kahlil Gibran


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