When someone we love dies, we go through a grieving process. The grieving process can be difficult and often overwhelming.
There are many different ways to get through the grieving process, but it is important to do what works best for you. You may find that talking to someone about your loss or writing in a journal can be helpful. Some people find comfort in prayer or meditation.
No matter what you do, don’t try to bottle up your feelings-they will only come out later in a more detrimental way.
If you need help moving through the grieving process, there are many resources available. You can talk to your doctor, a therapist, or a grief counselor. There are also support groups available in many communities.
Grief is a process, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Just know that you are not alone in how you feel, and that with time, the pain will lessen.
5 Stages of Grief
Stage 1: Denial
Grief is an overwhelming emotion. It’s not unusual to respond to strong and often sudden feelings by pretending the loss or change isn’t happening.
Denying it gives you time to absorb the news and begin to process it. This is a common defense mechanism and helps numb you to the intensity of the situation.
As you move out of the denial stage, however, the emotions you’ve been hiding will begin to rise. You’ll be confronted with a lot of sorrow you’ve denied. That is also part of the journey of grief, but it can be difficult.
Stage 2: Anger
Where denial may be considered a coping mechanism, anger is a masking effect. Anger is hiding many of the emotions and pain that you carry.
This anger may be redirected at other people, such as the person who died, your ex, or your old boss. You may even aim your anger at inanimate objects. While your rational brain knows the object of your anger isn’t to blame, your feelings at that moment are too intense to act according to that.
Anger may mask itself in feelings like bitterness or resentment. It may not be clear-cut fury or rage.
Not everyone will experience this stage of grief. Others may linger here. As the anger subsides, however, you may begin to think more rationally about what’s happening and feel the emotions you’ve been pushing aside.
Stage 3: Bargaining
During grief, you may feel vulnerable and helpless. In those moments of intense emotions, it’s not uncommon to look for ways to regain control or to want to feel like you can affect the outcome of an event. In the bargaining stage of grief, you may find yourself creating a lot of “what if” and “if only” statements.
It’s also not uncommon for religious individuals to try to make a deal or promise to God or a higher power in return for healing or relief from grief and pain. Bargaining is a line of defense against the emotions of grief. It helps you postpone the sadness, confusion, or hurt.
Stage 4: Depression
Whereas anger and bargaining can feel very active, depression may feel like a quiet stage of grief.
In the early stages of loss, you may be running from the emotions, trying to stay a step ahead of them. By this point, however, you may be able to embrace and work through them in a more healthful manner. You may also choose to isolate yourself from others in order to fully cope with the loss.
That doesn’t mean, however, that depression is easy or well-defined. Like the other stages of grief, depression can be difficult and messy. It can feel overwhelming. You may feel foggy, heavy, and confused.
Depression may feel like the inevitable landing point of any loss. However, if you feel stuck here or can’t seem to move past this stage of grief, you can talk with a mental health expert. A therapist can help you work through this period of coping.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Acceptance is not necessarily a happy or uplifting stage of grief. It doesn’t mean you’ve moved past the grief or loss. It does, however, mean that you’ve accepted it and have come to understand what it means in your life now.
You may feel very different in this stage. That’s entirely expected. You’ve had a major change in your life, and that upends the way you feel about many things.
Look to acceptance as a way to see that there may be more good days than bad. There may still be bad — and that’s OK.
If you’re going through a tough time, it’s important to reach out for help. Talking to a friend can be helpful, but if you need more support, consulting a therapist may be the best option for you.
Remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve-everyone experiences loss differently. Don’t try to bottle up your feelings; they will only come out later in a more detrimental way. Reach out and get the support you need during this difficult time.