The sudden loss of a loved one, relative, friend, co-worker, or classmate can be overwhelming. It can put us in a state of shock, disbelief and feeling numb all over.
The Grief Recovery Institute defines grief like this:
Grief is the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind. Of itself, grief is neither a pathological condition nor a personality disorder. Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.
Losing a Loved One
Although we grieve for many reasons; a breakup, loss of friendship, divorce maybe the family pet died, the most difficult is the loss of a loved one.
Death is part of life and so is grief, it’s an emotion to recognize, embrace and work through. Keep in mind we all grieve differently; for instance some wear their emotions on their sleeve and others internalize them. There is not a right or wrong way to grieve.
However, avoid keeping these feelings buried deep inside. That is not only unhealthy but delays the grieving process and can lead to self-medicating or avoidance.
The 5 Stages of Grief
The five stages are listed here in no particular order. The order can be and is different for everyone!
- Denial and isolation
- Bargaining (the “if only” statements)
The best advice when grieving is to allow yourself to feel your feelings as they come over you. It’s important to identify a safe place and practice deep breaths. It’s okay to cry. Tears are the body’s way of releasing sadness, we (counselors) call them cleansing tears. Each time you allow tears to leave the body you will be that much lighter with sadness and grief.
The good news is we don’t grieve a stage twice. However, if delayed or interrupted grief can “pile up” and become a major factor in the onset of other disorders.
Ultimately, if you don’t deal with it, you prolong the healing process.
It Takes Time
Take the time to feel it, let it out whether it is anger, sadness or acceptance. As difficult as this is, it’s important to honor the process.
I dedicate this blog to a young man (The Quest Project® graduate), and his family. He recently lost his dad in a very violent way. In his own time and space, maybe sitting on the edge of his bed my hope is he’ll recall these words of encouragement and healing. And when the grieving is done, he will continue to shine his bright light, just like his dad taught him.