Grief is the complex set of emotions we have after experiencing a death or loss. Grief can affect our body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Grief is a natural response to losing someone or something that is important. Everyone grieves differently and there is no right or wrong way to grieve however there are healthy ways to grieve. Unmanaged grief can lead to many physical issues as well as mental and emotional health issues. Complicated grief can cause even more severe issues but there are ways to protect your self from these issues and remain healthy through the grieving process. Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified 5 different stages of grief. The first stage is denial. When you first learn of a loss you may feel shocked or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the overwhelming emotions.
Denial is a defense mechanism that can cause problems like anxiety and mimic symptoms of Attention Deficient Disorder such as the inability to focus and concentrate. Children who loose parents are often affected greatly by this stage of grief. School work becomes harder even though the work load has not changed. The next phase of grief is anger as reality sets in, you’re faced with the pain of your loss. Feelings of frustration tend make people feel helpless and out of control. These feelings of frustration later turn into anger. Most will direct their anger toward other people they care about, a higher power, or daily life in general. To be angry after a loss is natural, but anger can be a destructive emotion if not controlled. Greif causes peoples critical thinking skills to dip lower than they may have ever in the past. When critical thinking is low humans tend to make bad decisions including not being able to control their temper. Domestic violence is often the result of unresolved grief.
The next set of feelings one who is grieving will experience is bargaining. During this stage, you dwell on what you could’ve done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are ““What if…” You may also try to make deals with God or a higher power. Bargaining can also cause the person grieving to become so hyper focused on the loss that they can’t concentrate on their responsibilities including jobs, spouses and children. Bargaining is followed by depression which is often when an overwhelming sadness sets in as you begin to process the loss and its effect on your life. Depression can be the most dangerous phase for people to work through.
Depression can cause excessive or inconsolable crying, sleeping issues, a decreased appetite and feelings of regret. All of which wreak havoc on our physical as well an emotional wellbeing. Statics show that many suicides happen during the depression phase of grief. The final stage of grief is acceptance, and, in this phase, you accept the reality of the loss. Noting can change the loss but you are able to begin moving forward with your life. This does mean the sad feelings have gone away it just means you are ready to pick up the pieces and start putting them back together. This phase tends to have the most positive impact on a grieving person. People often experience grief reactions in ‘waves’ that come and go. Often, grief is most intense soon after someone has died. But some people don’t feel their grief right away. They may feel numbness, shock, or disbelief. It can take time for the reality to sink in that the person is gone.
- Grief: Coping with reminders after a loss – Mayo Clinic
- Coping with Grief and Loss: Understanding the Grieving Process – HelpGuide.org
- Coping With Grief and Loss: Tips for Healing – Verywell Mind
- The Relationship between Having an Unresolved Grief Reaction, Physical Health, and Utilization of Health Care Services in Bereaved Elders – NCBI
- The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief – Psych Central Blog
- Grief and Loss – American Psychological Association