UNDERSTANDING THE GRIEVING PROCESS

UNDERSTANDING THE GRIEVING PROCESS

Grief occurs differently for different individuals. While many people associate grief and the grieving process with the death of a loved one, it can also occur because of any type of significant loss in life. This could include the loss or death of a pet, the loss of a job, the breakup of a relationship, divorce, or even a change in life such as the loss of a job, addiction, rejection, chronic illness, or the loss of social or financial status.

 

Grief is a very normal reaction or response to a loss, but sometimes, it can seem to overshadow all aspects of our life. Allowing ourselves time to grieve and heal after a loss is critical to our overall emotional well-being.

 

THE GRIEVING PROCESS

 

American soldier grieving

One model of the grieving process, known as the Five Stages of Grief, was first developed by Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, in 1969. She developed the model based on her work with terminally ill individuals and their families. In this model, the stages are not meant to be prescriptive, but more general in nature, allowing for individual differences and experiences.

 

In general, the stages of grief will include:

 

1. Denial - refusal to accept the pending death or life changing loss. This is often a relatively short period of time where information, education, and support is critical.

 

2. Anger - anger at others, at self, or at the situation are common reactions to the pain of being forced to accept the loss that has happened. This can sometimes seem irrational and may drive support systems away at a time they are needed the most.

 

3. Bargaining - attempting to bargain or reach some type of compromise with a higher power, another person, or even the issue itself, as a way to create hope and postpone the reality of the loss that is happening.

 

4. Depression - this may look different to different people, and with different types of losses. In most cases, regrets, fears, and lack of certainty cause us to worry and get stressed.

 

5. Acceptance - this is the opposite end of the spectrum from denial. At this point, the individual accepts that the loss has happened, and is able to move forward.

 

It is important to realise that many people do not get through all five stages of grief. People that are trapped in the stage of depression can become clinical depressed.

 

FINDING HELP

 

Regardless of the model used to describe and define the grieving process, researchers agree that individuals experiencing loss or trauma will benefit from:

 

           Talking about their feelings and becoming capable of expressing grief

           Allowing the grief process to occur naturally, in a meaningful and personal way

           Expressing their feelings in a way that works for the individual. This may be through journaling, art, dance, physical exercise, getting out in nature, or reconnecting with people

           Staying physically active, having a healthy lifestyle and avoiding problematic short term coping strategies like drugs or alcohol

Finally, obtain psychological support if you feel frustrated by a failure or a shift in your life. Counselors, consultants and mentors will help you move through the grief phase to keep going on in existence, often after extremely stressful situations.

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