We’ve all had at least a brush of grief over death in our lives in some way or another and none of us have ever felt prepared for it. Whether you are anticipating the death of a loved one, mourning the loss of someone who has already passed on or are anxious about an illness you yourself are facing, the five stages of grieving are experienced by many, regardless of the situation. In this three part series on grieving, we will cover the five stages, as they can apply to a variety of situations.
Grieving can start far before the loss of someone close to you and it often continues long after a loved one’s passing. We hope to begin to provide comfort and understanding in your life as you move through a journey of loss, coping and eventually peace and acceptance.
It can be very difficult to accept the death of a cherished loved one and the first reaction anyone could have is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a numbing experience and it is a normal reaction to something so overwhelming and shocking. This is a temporary response that carries one through the first wave and reaction to the pain of the loss.
Almost like a cover-up, the feelings of denial will begin to wear off, and the reality of the situation will set in. No one is every truly prepared for the loss of their loved one, especially if it was unexpected. The intense emotion of anger begins to build and is often taken out on those that have no direct relationship to the situation. Anger can be often aimed at friends, family and even complete strangers. One may tell themselves not to be so mad, or to try and not take out their sorrow on others, which can in turn cause more hurt and anger in an already tough situation.
One may often feel blame and guilt over the loss of a loved one and think to themselves “if only”. Wishing you had done something sooner or wishing you would have said something different, when now there is no opportunity to go back and make things different. An individual seeks a compromise with themselves in exchange for an avoidance of grief.
Many people will keep to themselves, refuse visitors and become silent. They spend much of their time mourning and keep their lives private. This is often seen as a quiet preparation to separate and to bid a loved one farewell. This is an important stage for those around the grieving individuals to be as understanding as possible. Many people live their lives day to day at this stage and have a hard time being in groups or committing to happy activities (weddings, parties, etc.).
This can be the most difficult stage to reach in the path to peace in one’s grief journey. As mentioned previously, if a death is sudden or unexpected, it may be hard for many to see beyond denial or anger. This final stage is marked by a calmness and peace within us. This is not necessary a period of joy, but it can be recognized and distinguished from depression. People are able to embrace the new life they have without their loved one and have a stable condition of emotions.
There is no set track or timeline for the five stages of grieving. These stages of grief do not necessarily progress in this nice well defined order. You may think you have progressed through one stage of grief to find yourself experiencing that particular stage all over again. Everyone will grieve at their own pace and at different times throughout the loss of a loved one. When you lose someone close to you, you will be forever changed. Stages may be repeated multiple times because of the person’s situation. It is very important for each person to identify their needs and understand that they may need as much space as possible to work through these stages. Each presents its own list of challenges. Surrounding oneself with those that are understanding and patient can be the best remedy for coping with a loss and working through grief.
Wherever you’re at in the process, give yourself room for imperfections, but also push yourself to move forward when the time is right. As you go through your time of mourning, we here at Willwerscheid are ready to guide you through the funeral process and planning and are more than willing to share helpful grief resources with you. Everyone has a unique situation in their lives and we want to be here to listen and help tell the story of your loved one. Please do not hesitate to call us today for more information.
The next entry in this series is How to Prepare for Loss Part Two | Coping with Anticipatory Grief