What Is the Grief Process
The Grief Process is our built-in ability to both “make sense” of loss, and to move past it to a personal resolution, whatever that might be. It might be a movement from resentment to forgiveness, from weakness to strength, from injury to wholeness. It always leads us to become more than we were.
Grief is an emotional, physical, and spiritual reaction to a major loss. Grief may be triggered by the death of a loved one, or an illness for which there is no cure, or a chronic condition that affects our quality of life. The end of a significant relationship may also cause a grieving process.
Everyone feels grief in their own way. However, there are some commonalities that our personal grief processes share. The process starts with recognizing a loss and continues until a person eventually accepts that loss. The Grief Process seems to be made up of of five stages. These stages might not occur in a specific order, and can (at times) occur together. Everyone may not experiences all of these emotions:
- Denial, disbelief, numbness
- Anger, blaming others
- Bargaining (for instance “If I am cured of this cancer, I will never smoke again.”)
- Depressed mood, sadness, and crying
- Acceptance, coming to terms
Since grief is not just one thing, it is important to give “voice” to each facet, but not to allow only one part of it to dominate entirely. We cannot allow feeling to so dominate us that we lose our ability for “doing”. Nor can we allow “doing” to so dominate us that we cannot feel. We are seeking balance, a new balace. A good example is when we are both sad and angry about a particular loss. If we are entirely stuck in only sadness, we do not have the energy necessary for daily tasks, and if we get stuck solely in our anger, we lose our empathy and approachability. I give “permission” to each of my parts to express all that I am feeling, and make conscious decisions to pull out of anything I seem to be getting stuck in. As the hours, days, and weeks go by, I seem to revisit all my feelings many times, until I find at some point, that it has all subsided on its own, and I am better for it.
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