Stages of Grief

Grieving the loss of a loved one can be paralyzing. Losing a loved one can spin your world upside down. For some it’s devastating, crushing, life altering and feels almost too painful to live the life you once had.  While grief can affect people in many different ways, most go through similar emotions, often called the stages of grief. These emotions include: shock and disbelief, guilt, sadness, anger and fear. There are also physical symptoms that affect people such as: tension and muscle ache, headaches, high blood pressure, weight gain or loss, fatigue or insomnia, loss of appetite and nausea. Whether you’re grieving the loss of an elderly relative, a parent gone too soon, the devastating loss of a child or even the family pet, can affect our emotional and physical state in a way we never imagined.

Coping With the Death of a Loved One

The Kübler-Ross model, is referred to as the “five stages of grief”. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross explains that when a person faces impending death or an unexpected loss, he or she will experience a series of emotional stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Kübler-Ross mentions that these are just some of the many emotions that can be experienced and they can be felt at anytime in any order.

Although death is a natural event that all of us face at different times, the topic can be very taboo for many people to talk about. After the loss of a loved one, a sense of loneliness and isolation can occur. In the beginning you might feel supported through routine events such as a funeral or a memorial service. Sometimes, family and friends stop by the days following the loss. Unfortunately, as time passes, the rest of the world has moved on, while you are just beginning to grieve. Overwhelming feelings of sadness, guilt, fear, anxiety and even depression can take over.

Support Through Grief Counseling

Reaching out for support from close family and friends or even through a Marriage and Family Counselor can make all the difference. Receiving support during the grieving process is an essential part of healing for both your physical and emotional health. The Marriage and Family Counselor will help you sort through your emotions and assist you in coping with the questions such as: “How do I move on? Will my life get back to what it used to be? Will these feelings go away or even get better?

Grief Counseling is not just for those who have lost a loved one. Many people experience the same feelings through other life changes such as: the loss of a pet, a miscarriage or pregnancy loss, a break up, divorce, a close family or friend moving to another state or country, retirement, a job loss and more. These experiences can trigger the same feelings and emotions as someone who suffered loss due to a death. Unfortunately, family and friends might not see this type of loss as “greiveable”  They might expect you to “move on.” For some, that might happen, but for others, it’s not that simple. Grief Counseling will validate your feelings, give you the platform to share your experiences as you see them and help you establish and maintain your emotional well being during this difficult life crisis.

Getting Through the Stages of Grief

The life you once had prior to losing your loved one IS different. Some will say it’s like combining your new life with the old. There is no time limit on grief. Missing your loved one will not just go away. A support system made up of close friends and family, a therapist or a support group and working through the grieving process will allow you the chance to crawl out of the black hole you are stuck in and see the light on the other side. Loss of a loved one is not something you get past or over, it’s a process you must go through and face it head on. Grief is also non-linear. Each stage of grief can be dealt with at any time throughout the grieving process. Allow the time you need to heal, but seek the support to help you get through the tough times.