Grief is a complicated cycle that happens after the loss of a loved one, someone you have formed a close bond to and can even be experienced in a secondary manner. Grief does not always have a connection to physical death but can also have links to a loss of a friendship, job, church, or even a routine that you were used to doing.
Grief is complicated because it riddles our bodies and minds with many different emotions at one time. Kubler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief shows us that there are 5 main stages that a person will go through during this cycle and includes: bargaining, sadness or depression, anger, denial and acceptance. The important thing to remember about grief if you or a loved one is experiencing it, is that the stages are not in order and there are no rules or limits as to how long a person “should” feel them.
Some people may feel sadness while also feeling denial, where others may be depressed and not be able to move on for months at a time. It is important that we do not judge others based on our own perceived timelines of where we think a person should be. The word “should” is a dangerous one that can add to someone’s feelings of isolation and sadness and can be quite invalidating. A different way we can handle others who are experiencing grief would be to just listen, and offer ourselves in whatever way those people tell us we are needed.
People may not always know what they need or when they are in need, but the thing they need most is to not feel alone. Grief affects many aspects of our lives including our physical, mental and emotional health, psycho-social relationships, job stability and even our appetites. Grief knows no boundaries and does not discriminate.
One of the worst things a person who is grieving will hear is “just get over it”. Throughout my practice as well as my personal experiences with grief, if there was a way to “just get over it” everyone would be using it. People who are grieving do not want to feel sad, angry or in denial. They want to remember what it is like to laugh and have fun, but it is not always possible. It does us a disservice to wrongfully expect ourselves or others to get over a feeling that they cannot always control.
Below is an illustration of the different ways grief can affect our lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with grief consider helping them find a counselor who can provide unbiased help with walking through the stages together. www.inspirechangecounseling.org