I don’t think many realize that grief is not just about the loss of a person to death. There are many types of losses and each loss is as important as the next. The most difficult losses for me are the loss of a relationship or of a dream. I don’t know about you but in my earlier years I thought it would be easier to lose a love to death than to lose them in life. To lose someone who is still living, you know that they are still out there living their life without you and it not only hurts but it can give you a sense of desperation.
In order to truly accept a loss, we must grieve. If you do not grieve, you will keep running from the feelings and someday, somewhere you will blow up and wonder where your reaction came from. It is referred to as “coming out sideways”. “Coming out sideways” is when your reaction to a situation is actually due to emotions left over from a past situation that have not been dealt with. When you don’t grieve each loss, the emotions build up until you can no longer contain them and they have to come out somewhere.
Grief is not fun so we often try to avoid it by putting our attention to other things or any other thing. In crisis counseling, many callers had a situation they had not grieved. It could have been the loss of a job, a friendship, a home but whatever it was, they would admit that it had an impact on their lives and left unresolved emotions. Each person grieves in their own way but there is a model that grief typically follows and it is referred to as The Seven Stages of Grief and are as follows:
SHOCK & DENIAL-
You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.
PAIN & GUILT-
As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.
You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn’t do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.
“DEPRESSION”, REFLECTION, LONELINESS-
Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a
long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.
During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.
ANGER & BARGAINING-
Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.
THE UPWARD TURN-
As you start to adjust to live without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your “depression” begins to lift slightly.
RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-
As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.
ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-
During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.
You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.
Recover from Grief.com
Though this version of the model covers loss through death, it can be applied to any type of loss. When you experience an anger or depression for which the reason cannot be pinpointed, ask yourself “What is missing?” and/or “What has changed?”. You may have to think back in time but there will more than likely be some feeling that you have been avoiding or running away from.
Rather than thinking of crying as being a weakness or self pity, see it as cleansing. Crying is a release of pent up emotion and is healthy.