Going Through the Stages of Grief

Monday, October 25, 2010

I learned about the Stages of Grief when I was going through nurse's training. It gives me understanding that what we go through after a loss is universal to us as people, it is considered a normal life process. That being said, gives us understanding that what we are going through, although painful, is normal. (*note to self: I didn't ask for this, I just wanted to have babies to raise and love.)
For more understanding of my journey read my previous blog:
"CAUTION: Going Through a Tough Time".

There are 5, but some would say 7 stages of grief after a loss. This could be the loss of a loved one, a limb or even intense disappointment. The grief that follows such a loss can seem unbearable, but grief is actually a healing process. Grief is defined as the emotional suffering we feel after a loss of some kind. The 5 stages of grief were named by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Sometimes people get stuck in one of the first four stages. Their lives can be painful until they move to the fifth stage - acceptance.

Since the time of Kubler-Ross two more stages were added to the 5, making 7 which I have quoted here from this web site:


7 STAGES OF GRIEF --- Through the Process and Back to Life

It is important to interpret the stages loosely, and expect much individual variation. There is no neat progression from one stage to the next. In reality, there is much looping back, or stages can hit at the same time, or occur out of order. So why bother with stage models at all? Because they are a good general guide of what to expect.

For example, generally, a long period of "depression" (not clinical depression), isolation, and loneliness happen late in the grief process, months after the tragedy strikes. It actually is normal and expected for you to be very depressed and sad eight months later.

Outsiders do not understand this, and feel that it should be time for you to "get over it" and rejoin the land of the living. Just knowing that your desire to be alone with your sad reflections at this time is normal will help you deal with outside pressures. You are acting normally. They just don't "get it".

7 Stages of Grief...

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.

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.

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.

You may rail against fate, questioning "Why me?" You may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair ("I will never drink again if you just bring him back".)

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.

As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.

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.

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.

I have not lost my son to death, but I have lost him nonetheless with no guarantee that he will return.

I am posting this to remind myself and to possibly educate others that the loss we experience in this life is real. We personally own it and share it with others who may or may not understand. The hope is in the normal progression we can expect to go through and that the pain will lessen, though not necessarily ever go away. It can help having friends or a support group to share with, so as not to feel that you are an island or alone in your grief.

Grief can throw you off your course which can add to the guilt you may be already feeling. You may push all your personal goals to the side in order to focus on survival. Depression freezes your forward movement and drive toward goals. As best you can, continue taking those positive steps you have learned to keep yourself healthy and fit. Even if you feel numb and like you are just "going through the motions", each small positive step toward eating right and fitness will be a life raft to you and keep the light at the end of the tunnel before you until you are finally into the light and enjoying life again.

Finding a support group can be key toward recovery and seek a doctor's help if need be. But never discount sitting a while outdoors in nature or in the sunshine, taking comfort in God's Word, the Bible. Taking your vitamins, eating your veggies & fruits, getting a dose of endorphins from a brisk walk, petting your furry pet friends, reading Chicken Soup for the Soul, journaling your feelings. If you need to cry, let loose when you can. Get it all out of your system until nary a tear is left. Be a grief activist. Your goal is to RECOVER. Life is gone as you knew and desired it. Chapter closed. And as with any book, a new chapter is eminent.

Love to you all who are seeking recovery,
and to all my SparkFriends: Feel free to share this with anyone you know who may need it.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Your blog...which was so beautifully written...spoke to my soul. Having lost our beautiful son only 2 weeks before his 23rd birthday literally knocked DH and I to our knees. Our world stopped turning for a LONG, LONG, time and the grief was SO intense it HURT to breathe. I lost interest in EVERYTHING and pretty much every one. It's been 4 LONG hard years...but I'm finally getting to stage 7. We are starting a new business venture and we are hoping with fingers and toes crossed that it propels us back into life.

    Thank you beautiful friend for sharing this WONDERFUL information. There are many many mothers that I have met on this site that can benefit from your heartfelt blog.

    You can be sure that I will refer them to you! Many hugs for sharing this! emoticon emoticon
    3505 days ago
    In time, you'll get through this.
    emoticon Big Hugs!!! emoticon
    3508 days ago
    "It is important to interpret the stages loosely, and expect much individual variation. There is no neat progression from one stage to the next. In reality, there is much looping back, or stages can hit at the same time, or occur out of order."

    Thank you so much for mentioning this part. A grief counselor stressed to me that the stages are not linear & that there is no set or "normal" timeframe. Too many people forget that part & become too hard on themselves or others. Give time to heal.
    3508 days ago
    Thank you for sharing your struggle and coping so eloquently. My eldest daughter left home/was kicked out and now leads a vagabond life, very painful to us. The grief comes and goes in waves, even years later. My second daughter moved out, but we still see her, still it was hard to let go. My daughter with a disability is still at home, and in a way is the hardest to let go of. I think letting go is a very big part of parenting, and a very difficult one. Prayers for you and your family as you struggle with this...Kathleen
    3508 days ago
    Thanks for sharing this.


    3508 days ago
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