What is grief?
No matter the form of loss you’ve suffered, there’s no right or wrong way to grieve.
Grief is most commonly associated with death, but grief can occur during any difficult time of your life. It’s a natural response to loss.
Any form of loss can lead to grief. These losses can include (but aren’t limited to):
- Job loss
- Financial struggle or instability
- Death of a pet
- Loss of good health
Lossing something or someone forces you to adjust to a brand new reality. Doing this can be extremely difficult and will lead to unpredictable life patterns.
Experiencing Grief: The Five Stages
Grieving is a unique journey for each individual person. In other words, no two people are likely to experience grief the same way.
But what does grief look like? Is it the same for everyone?
The Five Stages of Grief Model was developed by psychologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and was soon developed into a way of thinking about grief in general.
The Five Stages of Grief:
1. Denial: “This is not happening..”
– This is the stage where life may not make sense and everything is very overwhelming. Denial is not just an attempt to pretend the loss didn’t occur. It is also a time when we try to form an understanding of what’s going on.
2. Anger: “This is your fault….”
– During this stage, sudden and abrupt moments of anger can occur because of any little or big thing (e.g. inanimate objects, strangers, loved ones, etc). Anger during grief can often be displaced and can be expressed in unfamiliar ways to others around us.
3. Bargaining: “Well maybe I can deal with that…”
– By bargaining, the person is willing to admit the outcome of the loss but does so by squeezing familiar moments out of turmoil. During this stage, the individual is attempting to “postpone” the feelings of sadness.
4. Depression: “I’m so sad….”
– Depression during a grief period is prolonged feelings of sadness and hopelessness. The individual can also experience withdrawal from social settings.
5. Acceptance: “I am at peace about….”
– Acceptance is embracing the present moments in order to shape the future. Acceptance does not mean contentment but it does come with a worthy amount of peace. Easier said than done but possible.
These five stages are thought to be a chronological order of events for grief but truthfully, there is no linear order to grief. People can experience all these stages in order, out of order, more than once, etc. Others may experience only a few of these stages versus someone who experiences all of them.
Myths vs Facts about grief
Myth: You have to always remain strong no matter what
Fact: You have every right to let loose and be vulnerable. Even strong people need a break.
Myth: Crying won’t help; It’s not healthy to cry
Fact: Crying is a form of self-soothing that scientists have proven to help release those “feel-good” chemicals in the brain known as endorphins and oxytocin. However, crying is not the only form of self-soothing. Find what works for you and stick to it.
Myth: If you ignore it, the feeling will go away; You have to shove your feelings down
Fact: Ignoring your emotions will only be detrimental to you in the long run. It’s better to feel through it, to get through it.
Ways to cope with grief
The best advice I’ve ever received was to take time to process my feelings in a way that felt good for me rather others were included or not.
Some things that can help you include:
- Seeking professional help. Having a safe space to be vulnerable is very important when going through the grieving process. If you feel unsafe in your space(s) you can always seek help from any mental healthcare professional online or in person.
- Take time for yourself. It is important to have some set out “me time” to allow yourself time to feel your emotions.
- Take care of yourself. Sometimes, we forget to care for ourselves, especially during rough times. It is important to remember to do the essential things (eat, stay hydrated, get fresh air, etc.) as well as the much need things (get dressed up, take yourself out, have fun, etc).
- Express your feelings. Sometimes, talking isn’t the best option. Gratefully, talking is not the only way to express yourself and your feelings. Journaling, painting, scrapbooking, sewing, etc. are great non-verbal forms of expression.
- Don’t allow anyone to tell you how you should or how you are supposed to feel. Including yourself. Your grief is your own, and you should be able to feel it without judgment or criticism. Laugh to keep from crying, cry to keep sane, joke about it. Do whatever it takes as long as it’s no harm to others or yourself.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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