Everyone experiences grief differently. Many people who lose a friend or loved one experience several stages of grief as they deal with a loss. Therapists who work with people as they grieve have noticed the ways that people cope with the loss. There are some commonalities including distinct stages such as denial, anger, and depression.
Types of Loss
Most people associate the word ‘grief’ with the sadness that surrounds the death of a loved one. Yet people can experience grief after many other losses, including a breakup, losing a job or home, having a part of the body like an arm or leg removed, having your child diagnosed with a challenging condition, being diagnosed with a terminal illness, or having to drop out of college.
The Grief Process
People go through a number of stages when they lose a loved one. You may experience them in any order and any number of times. You may feel sad at the beginning, move on to anger, and then return to feeling sad. The crucial thing to remember is to take your time to grieve. Allow yourself to do it in own unique way.
Kubler Ross Stages of Grief
Dr Elizabeth Dr. Kübler-Ross , a Swiss psychiatrist, introduced the concept of the five stages of grief in 1969. What are the five stages of grief? According to Dr. Kübler-Ross’ model, there are several stages of grief. Through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance people process their loss, whether that’s a terminally ill patient or a person coping with losing a loved one. She was also interested in the way people communicate their grief to others through their words, emotions, and behaviour.
When you’re in denial about the loss, you try to convince yourself or others that the event hasn’t happened or isn’t permanent. You know the facts, of course. If your spouse has died, you might accept that it happened but then believe for a time that his death means nothing to you. If your parents have divorced, you might try to get them back together even after they’ve moved on to other relationships. Following a job loss, you might go back to work thinking they didn’t really mean it when they fired you.
Anger is a typical reaction to loss, and it’s one of the Dr. Kübler-Ross’ stages of grief. You may be angry with the person who left you, or you may feel angry with yourself. You might express the anger by shouting at people, using sarcasm, or by showing irritation at everything from significant letdowns to minor problems. This stage can also happen at any time, even after you go through a period of acceptance. The benefit of the grief stages is that they help you deal with the loss but anger is the one emotional that can affect other family or friend relationships which might require professional help.
At some point, you may find yourself bargaining, trying to get back what you lost. This part of the stages of grief and the higher power help the person cope with the loss. People often promise their God that they will live a better life if only they can take back what they lost. A child may promise to pick up their toys and stop arguing with their siblings if their parents will get back together. Bargaining is a stage that sometimes brings up uncomfortable discussions that go nowhere.
Another one of the stages of grief is depression. The depression can present with any of the symptoms of clinical depression. You may feel sad and cry often. You might notice changes in your appetite or sleep patterns. You might have unexplained aches and pains. This stage can be too painful in a breakup in a relationship and in the death of a loved one. If you’re moving through these stages of grief, divorce can seem like the end of your life, so it’s natural to become depressed. It is a situational depression that may soon pass naturally as you move toward acceptance.
The last of the Dr. Kübler-Ross stages of grief is acceptance. You understand what you lost and recognize how important that thing or person was to you. You no longer feel angry about it, and you’re finished with bargaining to get it back. You’re ready to start rebuilding your life without it.
Complete acceptance brings complete peace, but often, this stage is never complete. Instead, you might feel sad during death anniversaries or angry when you feel current circumstances would work out so much better if you just had that thing or person with you now. When you accept the loss fully, you’ll understand the stages of grief better.
The Seven Stages of Grief
Dr. Kübler-Ross refined her model to include seven stages of loss. The 7 stages of grief model is a more in-depth analysis of the components of the grief process. These seven stages include shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance. Kubler-Ross added the two steps as an extension of the grief cycle. In the shock phase, you feel paralyzed and emotionless.
In the testing stage, you try to find realistic solutions for coping with the loss and rebuilding your life.
Sometimes clients may become stuck in one stage of grief, such as anger or depression and may feel unwilling or unable to move through the process. In a worst-case scenario, the person can continue to be angry, sad, or even in denial for the rest of their life. When this happens, they usually need to talk to a grief counsellor before they can move out of that stage of grief. Otherwise, the intense pain might continue over the course of many years. Also, they may miss opportunities to build a new life that can bring them happiness in the here and now.
Even if you don’t become stuck in one particular stage of grief and loss, you might get stuck in the grief cycle.
You do move through the stages, but then you move back to the previous ones, never quite able to free yourself from the tragedy.. In cases of extreme loss, this may be necessary for a time. The shock, denial, anger, and bargaining can eventually lead to living with our loss and having a new place for our loved one in our lives.
Help When You’re Grieving
Grief counselling helps people who are overwhelmed after a loss. If they are stuck in one stage of grief, this type of counselling can help move them towards acceptance of the situation (like a job loss or illness) or finding an enduring connection with a loved one who has passed. The counsellor holds the persona and assists them to talk about their loss, identify the painful feelings and learn how to live with and resolve those feelings. They help you identify and hone the right coping skills for you, some of which you’re already using. If the method you’re trying to use for coping isn’t working out, the grief counsellor can help you identify that problem and introduce you to coping skills and tools that work better. If you would like to find out more you can contact Carmel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call / whats app 0877017513
Carmel is an IACP psychotherapist in the community and private practice. She has been a group facilitator for AWARE since 2016. Carmel has experience in grief counseling and in other areas of psychotherapy such as depression, anxiety, addiction, stress and relationship problems . She has a lived experience and deep understanding of grief and loss..