Loss is a part of life. We’ve all experienced loss through death, divorce, brake ups and family feuds. You can lose your family, friends, pets, jobs, possessions or even learn of your own terminal illness to create a loss and start a grief process within you. And, though losses can range from small to devastating, it helps to understand the stages of grief and mourning you will experience in response to losses, to help you as you go through them. These stages of grief were first explored in Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ 1969 book, On Death and Dying.
People experience the stages in different orders and at different lengths before moving to acceptance of the loss. This short guide can help you understand your feelings while you are experiencing healing from grief to provide you with a sense of peace.
Denial and Isolation. After the loss occurs, I know I feel a need to be alone and cry in private. I can tell myself that it isn’t true or that it is somehow reversible. Denial and isolation are ways to protect ourselves from the eminent painful emotions to come.
Anger. This is the time when you have regrets and, “If only” or “Well maybe” feelings. Guilt can consume you for errors or time lost with loved ones. You can experience anger and resentment toward a person who left you in a relationship. Just be careful not to take your anger out on others around you. Other people who care about you are your support system, not your scape goats.
Bargaining. Since loss makes you feel out of control, it’s natural to want to regain what control you felt you used to have. You may try to make deals with your loved one to return or make a deal with God to restore your previous state of being.
Depression. This is when the feeling of loss and inability to change reality sets in. Mourning and sadness occur. Additional withdrawal happens and possibly a loss of appetite, guilt, insomnia, fatigue or irritability. It’s important to understand the signs of depression and also how to approach and treat depression.
Grief healing is a deeply personal experience. It will happen for you in your own way and your own time. It’s a sad reality of life, but fortunately, we get to continue to experience love in life to counter act the sadness and grief associated with loss.