Grief is a normal response to a significant loss. When someone we love dies, we go through a rollercoaster of emotions that have been classified into what is commonly referred to as The Stages Of Grief.
The truth is that grief is unpredictable. These stages can intertwine, coexist, and even come back around again. Some people may entirely skip a stage. For most people, there is no definitive end to one stage and a clear beginning to the next stage. It's a transition without a time limit.
It is essential to fully feel the emotions that these stages bring and to avoid rushing the healing process. Everyone heals at their own pace and in their own way. However, if we can identify what stage we are in, we can find the path to the other side.
The Five Stages Of Grief
While these five general stages of grief don't affect everyone in a particular order, most people begin in denial because it's our bodies natural reaction to trauma. The death of a friend or loved one is traumatic, and moving through these stages with a guide by your side can keep you going in the right direction.
When we first lose someone, many of us go into a state of shock. We slide into a state of mind that saves us from reacting to such news in a self-destructive way. We shut ourselves off. We can feel numb and disconnected from reality. Our lives have dramatically changed, and our subconscious mind knows that our conscious mind can't handle it, at least not now.
We may keep wishing for someone to call and tell us that a mistake was made: it wasn't actually our loved one but someone else, or maybe it was just a cruel joke. But unfortunately, we can still feel this way even when we know for sure that we have lost someone, which can be aggravating and causes you to question yourself and reality.
But this stage fulfills an essential need. Denial helps us survive the initial slam of pain and gives our minds the time it needs to get ready to start processing the loss. We are protecting ourselves. At its core, denial is about survival.
Eventually, our state of denial should begin to evolve into another stage, and we will start to heal. Emotions will rise to the surface, and we will begin to feel things again. Unfortunately, there is a chance that we will feel worse for a while before we start to feel better. But, with time, it does get better.
Anger and Blame
Feeling angry and blaming ourselves, even when we did nothing wrong, is the Anger Stage. We are mad at ourselves, and we are mad at the world. It's even common to feel angry towards the person who died, and it can cause a person to question their faith.
"How could this have happened?" "What did I do?" "How could they do this?" "Is the world out to get me?" "Why did I say that to them?" "Did they know how much I loved them?"
Much like the denial stage, anger is necessary to heal. You need to feel that anger. The quicker you face these emotions, the sooner this phase in the grief cycle will pass. Feel the feels and face the truths. You will be okay.
Anger is necessary to reconnect us to reality, but it can bring up feelings of abandonment. We start to feel alone in the world, and no one can understand our pain. Confronting our emotions and accepting that we are angry is an important step in moving forward. Our social connections are critical during this stage, and even a simple text from a friend can be healing. And it can help us move on.
Guilty feelings can lead to bargaining and share a few similarities to denial. We try to make deals, trading for someone's life. Some of us tell God that we promise to do something equally great if he would somehow spare this person, even though we know such a trade is impossible. We can feel desperate. We may beg for help or divine intervention.
Bargaining is conscious denial, and we need to find out who to blame so we know who to bargain with.
Guilt causes us to question everything we have done. We may believe that a chain of events led to this loss, and if we can find that initial action, we could do something to prevent it. "What if I got there ten minutes earlier?" "What if I just forced her to go to the doctor earlier?"
Depression is the first stage of genuinely accepting our loss, and it is a common hurdle one must go through to reach the other side, the accepting side, of grief. We need to come to terms with the loss and try to create new routines to fill the empty space. But we're still numb and detached from the world. Many people have described it as living in a constant fog.
Unfortunately, this causes us to feel hopeless, isolate ourselves, and bottle up our feelings because we can't yet put our grief into words, and we don't want to be a burden on the other people in our lives. The worst part about depression is that it takes away our will to evolve with the change. We don't have to fight depression alone--depression can be lessened with therapy, medications, and constructive social interaction.
Indeed, we will never truly get over the loss of a loved one, but we can reach a place of acceptance, the final stage that allows us to move on. Of course, we will still miss them. We may still cry, get angry, bargain, and feel depressed, but we can now reminisce on our time with the person we lost and appreciate the time we had with them.
This is when we reenter reality and, for many, society in general. We know that our loved one is never coming back. We get that it is time to move on, and we know it's okay to do so. Of course, there are good and bad days, but that's the definition of progress. We can evolve now. We can make new friends. We have the voice to ask for help when we need it.
We can accept that our loved one is now gone and that there is nothing we can do to change that. And that is okay.
Coping With Grief and Loss
After.com not only takes care of the direct cremation services of your loved one, but we also take care of those recently left behind: You. We have the philosophy that caring for the families we serve doesn't end when the cremation is complete. We provide additional grief counseling, resources, and dedicated support to help navigate the logistics of death—completing paperwork, notifying creditors, collecting benefits, and more. Contact us today to arrange cremation services for a loved one or prearrange cremation for yourself.