Grief and Loss
What are the 5 stages of grief?
When navigating grief, many people go through 5 stages:
- Denial/Isolation – A defence mechanism against the initial pain of loss. It might look like not acknowledging the loss, pretending everything is okay, or cutting yourself off from everything that reminds you of your loss.
- Anger – When we are forced to confront our loss, anger often takes the place of denial. We might lash out at people we don’t mean to, become bitter over small disagreements, and carry a feeling of unfairness with us wherever we go.
- Bargaining – After the anger drains out, we might try to change our circumstances through bargaining. Whether this bargaining is directed towards a religion/spiritual practice, the people in our lives, or ourselves, it can have debilitating effects on our lives.
- Depression – This stage is where we begin to feel the full weight of our loss. Loss is part of the human experience, but that does not make it easier to go through.
- Acceptance – This is the end goal of grief counselling, where you can honor the memory of your loved one without feeling the pain. The people we’ve lost should be remembered, but grief can often blur the image of them. Acceptance is the full circle of grief, where we’ve had time to feel the pain and come out of it stronger and healthier.
How to Navigate the Grief Process
1. Rely on your social support system – Even a simple phone call with a loved one can go a long way in making you feel loved and supported. It can help you remember what grief makes you forget – you are not alone.
2. Establish boundaries – Not everyone will know how to react to your loss and grief. Others will want to help but won’t know-how. Both can result in you being hurt by good intentions. Be honest with the people in your life about what boundaries you need and how exactly they can help you in your time of grief.
3. Maintain your hobbies and interests (or form new ones!) – a loss can shake the foundation of our life. Keeping up with the passions that brought you joy before will help you remain rooted in who you are and not get stuck in grief.
4. Express your feelings – Find a way to express yourself that makes you feel comfortable. Some people talk through their feelings, others write, paint, sing, or exercise. Whatever your method, emotions are meant to be expressed. Allow yourself to feel all of them.