Knowing the Stages of Grief

Grief, the 5 letter word that weighs a ton.

Dealing with grief varies from person to person.  What most of us don’t realize is there are different stages of grief and knowing the stages can help you and your family deal better through the process after losing a loved one.  Often people say that time heals all wounds, which is not necessarily true when it comes to losing someone you love. There is no good or bad, right or wrong way to grieve, however, there are healthy ways.

The grief process is a natural response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering you feel when someone you love is taken away. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief.  The key to understanding the stages of grief is not to feel you have to have to experience the stages in any particular order. Instead, use them as guides in the grieving process.

Here are the common stages of grief that people go through, according to

• Denial, numbness, and shock: Numbness is a normal reaction to death or loss and should never be confused with “not caring”. This stage helps protect us from experiencing the intensity of the loss. It can be useful when we have to take some action, such as planning a funeral, notifying relatives or reviewing important papers.  As we move through the experience and slowly acknowledges its impact, the initial denial and disbelief fade.

• Bargaining: This stage of grief may be marked by persistent thoughts about what “could have been done” to prevent the death or loss.  Some people become obsessed with thinking about specific ways things could have been done differently to save the person’s life or prevent the loss.  If this stage of grief isn’t dealt with and resolved, the person may live with intense feelings of guilt or anger that can interfere with the healing process.

• Depression: In this stage, we begin to realize and feel the true extent of death or loss.  Common signs of depression in this stage include trouble sleeping, poor appetite, fatigue, lack of energy, and crying spells.  We may also have self-pity and feel lonely, isolated, empty, lost and anxious.

• Anger: This stage is common.  It usually happens when we feel helpless and powerless. Anger can stem from a feeling of abandonment because of a death or loss.  Sometimes we’re angry at higher power, at the doctors who cared for a lost loved one, or toward life in general.

• Acceptance: In time, we can come to terms with all the emotions and feelings we experienced when the death or loss happened.  Healing can begin once loss becomes integrated into our set of life experiences.

Because there are no rules or time limits to the grieving process its possible that you could experience one or more of these stages again. The two most common of the stages that return over time are depression and anger. If this happens, don’t be alarmed and just remember that each individual should define his or her own healing process after the loss of a loved one.  Again, there is no limit to how long one should grieve, however, the difficult times should become less intense and shorter as time goes by.

To find out more about hospice and the grieving process, please contact Wesley Hospice at 614-451-6700 or click here for more information.

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