On grief and loss
This post was written by Agata Kopacz
Grief is a natural response to a loss, but everyone experiences loss differently. Grief comes in waves and does not follow a timeline. Loss and grief can be overwhelming and bring forth many different feelings. Although everyone who has experienced a loss goes through a different grieving process, there are five stages of grief.
Denial is the first of the five stages of grief. In the denial stage, we experience a shock and only allow feelings to surface on a limited basis. We may experience a general numbness and wonder how we can go forward in life. Often, we find ourselves remembering the times we have shared with our loved ones. As we go through this stage, we slowly accept the reality of losing someone close to us. Recognizing the loss allows our feelings to surface and begins the healing process.
Once you’re through the denial, Anger is next. Anger is a crucial stage in the grieving process. It allows us to experience the pain associated with losing someone. You may feel lost, abandoned, and disconnected from others and the world. Anger can take on many forms. We may feel anger towards the first responders, someone grieving differently, yourself, the person who has died, and others. It can bring forth the “why” questions. “Why is this happening to me?”
After cooling down a bit, you may move into the Bargaining stage. This is a stage that is associated with feeling desperate and helpless. We often make “what if…” and “if only…” statements. In this stage, we may find ourselves directing requests to a higher power. We think of things that we could have done differently to prevent the loss from happening. We want to turn back the clock or wake up from this bad dream and have things be how they used to be.
As we understand the loss and its effects on our lives, we experience profound sadness. We recognize that our loved one is not coming back. In this stage, we may feel lonely, numb, and withdrawn. We may experience changes in our appetite. It may be challenging to get out of bed or fall and stay asleep. We may feel like we are living in a fog.
Acceptance is the final stage, where we begin accepting the reality of our loss. Learning to live with the loss does not mean we are no longer grieving. It means that we are beginning to adjust to our new lives without our loved ones.
Every person’s grieving process is different. Therefore, you may find yourself going through these stages in order, skipping some of them, or going back and forth between them. Remember that it is natural to have a range of emotions and that there is no right way to grieve. As you are grieving the loss of a loved one, make sure to take care of yourself. Allow yourself the space to experience grief to help you heal. Seek support and consider grief counseling.