Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Stages of Grief

So, there is apparently a debate about five or seven stages of grief. I think we experience grief at many levels, and not only when related to a death. Since 7 is my favorite number, I am leaning to the side that thinks about seven stages. Here they are, in case you were wondering:

1. SHOCK & DENIAL-You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.
2. PAIN & GUILT-As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs. You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn't do. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.
3. ANGER & BARGAINING-Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame on someone else. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.
You may rail against fate; you may also try to bargain in vain with the powers that be for a way out of your despair.
4. "DEPRESSION", REFLECTION, LONELINESS-Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be "talked out of it" by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving. During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.
5. THE UPWARD TURN-As you start to adjust to life, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your "depression" begins to lift slightly.
6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH-As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life.
7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE-During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. But you will find a way forward.

1 comment:

Jean Levert Hood said...

Honor your grief, in whatever form it comes.


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