Grief is a human way to deal with the feelings of love that we believe have ended. Another way of defining grief is the normal and natural reaction to significant emotional loss of any kind.
While grief is not the same for every person, there are certain commonalities. During the initial phase, the bereaved person is preoccupied with the deceased, preoccupied with feelings of yearning and longing, and with searching for him or her. While grieving, most people withdraw from the world and turn inward, often reviewing the course of the relationship, including positive and negative thoughts and feelings. People often also review the meaning the relationship had in their lives.
Grief entails a host of painful emotions that can sometimes be very strong and persistent. Strong feelings of sadness and loneliness almost always occur following the death of a close friend or family member. Fear and anxiety are also common. Difficult feelings of resentment, anger, and guilt can occur. Experiencing any or all of these emotions following the loss of a friend or family member is perfectly normal.
Elisabeth Kubler Ross, was an internationally renowned psychiatrist of her time. She was known as a “grief guru”, who pioneered the five stage grief model to help people through different types of loss and bereavement. Those five stages include:
1. Denial -“this can’t be happening to me”?
2. Anger -“why me?”
3. Bargaining – bargaining often takes place before the loss. Attempting to make deals with the loved one who is leaving, or attempting to make deals with God to stop or change the loss.
4. Depression – overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self pity, mourning loss of person as well as the hopes, dreams and plans for the future. Suicidal.
5. Acceptance – there is a difference between resignation and acceptance. You have to accept the loss, not just try to bear it quietly.
In reality, grieving is usually more of a circular process than a linear one. Some people may not experience some stages and other parts of the process may be revisited before full acceptance of the loss is achieved.
Here are some things to keep in mind about grieving:
1. Allow yourself to feel all those natural feelings and find ways to express them;-keep a daily journal, write a letter to the person who has died, or find a creative outlet.
2. Be gentle and patient with yourself
3. Partners/friends can spend time with your loved one who is grieving and listen, be open and acknowledging the persons own resources and differing ways of dealing with emotion.
4. Any ongoing difficulties with sleep, eating, managing mood, increases in drug and alcohol use, reduced energy which persist after a month, are worthwhile discussing and seeking additional help to address. This could mean encouraging your loved one to talk to a close family member, a trusted friend, a spiritual teacher, a doctor or a psychologist.
The old saying “Time heals” is only true if people actually confront their biggest fears and most painful emotions step by step.