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 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…
The fifth stage is Depression – after guilt, empty feelings present themselves and grief enters our lives on a deeper level. This depressive state feels as though it will last forever. We want to withdraw from life and wonder if there’s any point in going on at all.
You may find just getting out of bed is a challenge. You have no desire to eat or do anything. The heavy and dark feelings that come with depression is a natural step even though our society sees it as something to be treated. In grief, depression is a way for nature to keep us protected by shutting down the nervous system so that we can adapt to something we feel we cannot handle. You might want to resist being depressed, but depression is a necessary stage in the grieving process.
When you allow yourself to experience depression, it will leave as soon as it has served its purpose in your loss. As you grow stronger, it may return from time to time but that is how grief works. It will pass.