Grief & Loss
Have you ever lost someone close to you to death? We go through a grief process that was best described by Elizabeth Kublar-Ross in On Death and Dying. In it she talks about the five stages that people go through—denial and isolation; anger; bargaining; depression and finally acceptance. The dying, as well as those who love them, go through these stages although rarely at the same time and these stages are not predictable.
You may think you are in the anger phase, then jump to depression and then, back to denial again. There is no rhyme or reason—only what feels right for each individual at the time. No one can predict how long each phase will last. If you are grieving and some well-meaning person suggests that you shouldn’t be feeling what you are feeling, kindly thank them for their concern, but know that you are exactly where you need to be.
However, with grief, sometimes you will become aware of something not feeling right. You may think, “I should be over this by now” or “I don’t like feeling this way.” When you, yourself, recognize that it is time to move beyond where you are at, then trust that feeling.
When someone we love dies, we have to grieve. It is natural that we will miss the person’s presence in our life. When we grieve, it is our best attempt to keep that person’s memory alive. We know they no longer exist in the physical world as we know it. However, as we continue to think about them, pine for them, grieve their presence, then it keeps the thought of that person active in our perception. It feels better to us than the total void or absence of the other person.
When we come to accept loss of our loved one, we can experience some measure of peace and rejoin the living. A healthy step in this process is finding a way to somehow maintain that person’s presence in our lives without living in the past. Now, this is a very individual thing and you must be very careful not to judge the choices of the bereaved.
There are all kinds of creative ways to maintain the person’s presence. There is no wrong way. Whatever brings comfort to the bereaved should be supported by those around them. Remember that just because a person is grieving in a way that is foreign to you, doesn’t make it wrong for that person.
When acceptance occurs, then the grieving person can begin to re-assimilate back into their life, and the lives of those around them. But it won’t happen overnight. We need patience and loving understanding for those coming back from grief.
If you are grieving, or you are involved in the life of someone who is grieving, please don’t judge yourself or them. Understand that all behavior is purposeful and the person is working through the grieving process.