The grieving process is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through.
It’s intense, confusing, and frustrating.
Grief can be experienced after any loss, whether it is the loss of a home due to a natural disaster or foreclosure, or the loss of a job.
But the most powerful feelings of grief come when we lose someone in death.
It doesn’t matter if we lost a parent, child, spouse, or sibling. The feelings are strong, and in many cases crushing.
Even the loss of a close friend or a family pet can cause overwhelming feelings of grief.
Is there anything we can do to ease the pain?
Actually, it is possible to ease some of the intensity – as long as we understand the seven stages of grief.
What Are the 7 Stages of Grief? Why Do You Need to Know About Them?
Understanding the seven stages of grief will help you tremendously. You’ll know why you’re feeling a certain way, and you’ll be better equipped to work through each phase in a healthful and progressive way.
Here’s what you can expect from the seven stages of grief.
the seven stages of grief
1. Shock and Disbelief
During the typical first of the seven stages of grief, it’s easy to feel like you’re in shock. You can’t believe what’s happening is really happening. You may feel emotionally numb.
Loss is a big deal and it’s difficult at first to accept what’s really happening.
You may find that you refuse to accept that your loved one is really terminal or that they won’t ever walk through your door again.
The emotions of grief are intense and the brain uses denial as a defense mechanism against feeling the overwhelming rush of these emotions.
During this phase, you think about what more you could’ve done to prevent the person’s death. You pray to God or put thoughts out into the Universe that you’ll do whatever it takes to prevent a loved one’s death or for them to be brought back to you.
Once you realize that there’s nothing that can be done, that time cannot be reversed, that’s when the guilt rears its ugly head.
This phase can make you feel that you’re somehow responsible for the illness or accident that led to the death.
Or, you could be feeling guilty over some unresolved issues between you and your loved one.
It isn’t unnatural to feel angry at some point. You’ll feel angry with the world, angry with God, angry with your loved one for leaving you, and angry with yourself. In this phase, your brain is trying to make sense of your loss and is looking for someone to blame.
Once the anger has subsided, depression usually sets in.
The sadness you experience isn’t related to the shock of losing your loved one. Rather, it usually relates to how different your life will be now that your loved one is gone.
Our friends and family fill our life and our heart. When they’re gone, there’s a hole there that is painfully evident in our daily life. We don’t have our confidant, that person we typically lean on in hard times, or the person we could so easily belly laugh with.
That realization brings with it a lot of emotional pain.
During this final phase of the seven stages of grief, you’ll begin to experience a sense of hope. This hope can be in alignment with your life after death beliefs, but it can also be related to your own future.
It’s basically seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.
Dealing with the previous six stages is often dark and overwhelming. This final stage, though, is a welcome relief.
You finally feel like you can be happy again and celebrate the life of the person you lost and the love you shared instead of being so wholly focused on their death.
It’s important to note that everyone grieves differently. While a lot of people go through each phase consecutively, others may not. There’s nothing wrong with you – it’s just your unique way of dealing with the situation.
Seek Assistance If You or a Loved One Is Struggling Through the Phases of Grief
Even when a person is aware of the seven stages of grief, this doesn’t automatically mean that they’ll be able to work through them easily.
For some people, the pain is just too much to bear.
They can easily spiral into a deep, dark depression that could lead to self-harm.
If this is the case with you or someone you love – seek help right away.
Your feelings are nothing to be ashamed of. They’re simply something you need assistance with. And getting that assistance isn’t something you should be embarrassed about.
Getting help from a grief specialist will help you (or your loved one) work through this difficult time and the intense emotions that come along with it. Helping you to do that will lead you back onto a path of health, peace, and happiness.