The best way to grieve with ease is to be aware that there are 7 stages to the grieving process. Before I introduce the 7 stages and give a summary of each, I want you to know, I know what it feels like to lose someone close. I lost my mom to suicide when I was fifteen, my grandma had an asthma attack and died two years later, then my grandpa soon followed her, my uncle died in a car accident, and my father died of AIDS and my cousin hung herself. It felt as though everyone around me was dropping like flies. I have read many books on death, dying and grieving because I wanted to understand the whole process. I also sought the guidance of counsellors and psychologists for help. These 7 proven stages can help you identify where you are in the grieving process. My intention and hope, is to help you alleviate pain and grieve with ease.
How does one grieve with ease? And is it possible?
Well, I believe it’s possible once we have a better understanding of what death and grief are all about. What I know for sure is that we’re all going to die at some point in our lives. I mean none of us, now that we are here in this physical form and dimension are getting out of here alive. Am I right? And once we gain a better understanding of death and grief, the less tragic and traumatic it becomes.
The first stage is Denial. Being in denial doesn’t mean you literally don’t know your loved one has died. It simply means you come home and you can’t believe your loved one isn’t going to walk through the door or return from their fishing trip. Denial may appear as shock or feeling numb. It can show up as a dream we think we’re having or disbelief and the mind can’t fully process it.
We might wonder how we can go on or why we should go on. Denial is nature’s way of letting us know how much we can handle and helps us cope with our feelings of grief. Which is a good thing. It’s also a mechanism for preventing all the feelings associated with loss coming in all at once. That would be overwhelming.
Denial also brings about questions of how and why?
Once you start asking questions, the reality of the loss begins to sink in. As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask questions, you’re unknowingly beginning the healing process. You become stronger and denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.
The second stage is Anger. Anger begins when denial ends, and it doesn’t have to be logical or valid. You could be angry at your loved one for leaving or not taking care of themselves. You could be angry at yourself for not seeing it coming or angry with the doctors for not saving your loved one.
Then more feelings surface, anger is usually the carrier for sadness, panic, hurt and loneliness. These feelings appear after you start functioning at a normal pace. Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you heal.
The best ways to deal with anger is to acknowledge it. Embrace it. Don’t suppress it. Let it out! Talk to a friend or counsellor. Go for a walk, run or hike. Any kind of exercise or just scream into a pillow. Find a quiet place and let it out.
Anger is a natural emotion, by suppressing anger when it comes only makes the grieving process harder and longer. So, allow yourself to feel and be angry. The anger will subside and the feelings of loss will change form again. That brings us to the third step which is bargaining…
The third stage is Bargaining. Bargaining is when you’ll do anything to save your loved one. “Please God,” You say. “I’ll do anything you want me to do. Just let her live.” We want to go back in time to prevent the death from happening. Willing to do anything not to feel the pain of loss. So, we remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt. Then the ‘what if’s’ come into play. “What if I start being a better person? Then maybe god will return my loved one.” Or “What if do more good deeds?” Maybe god would reverse time so that my loved one still lives?”
The fourth stage is Guilt – guilt is bargaining’s cousin. We may feel guilty for not being able to save our loved one or preventing the death. The ‘if only” come into play. If only I had stayed with him or if only I listened, she would be alive. Then blame follows guilt around like a dark shadow. (I felt very guilty about my mom and my cousin’s death. Not being able to help save them and prevent their suicide. Guilt was the main emotion that tormented me.) That’s when depression sets in…