The 5 stages of grief, and the healthiest way to move through them, from someone with a lot of experience in this topic.
In 1969, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross introduced these stage of grief In her book, “Of Death and Dying”
While I have gone through these stages many times in my life, I’ve found that they don’t pertain to just the loss of some one you love, but can be applied throughout many different life’s experiences. To overcome them we must first understand and acknowledge that we’re going through them. The road is always difficult, but it can be done with perseverance and commitment to find happiness again.
The common example I can share is when I lost my daughter during delivery. When My Mother-In-Law found out, her response was, “No, she’s not dead. It can’t be.” It took days to convince her that it indeed had happened… She was gone.
The uncommon example in everyday life is when you lose your job. A job you loved, a job you were happy at. Your boss decided one day to fire you. You go into denial, “How could he fire me? I’ve done everything right…this can’t be, there must be some mistake.” The reality is, you were fired and that can be hard to grasp and can bring us to the next stage.
I’ve been in the situations where I was angry that God didn’t take me instead. Angry at the world for their happiness in a time when I was suffering. They didn’t know. It wasn’t their fault and I’m the type of person who wants people to be happy, I was just angry it happened to me. I was angry at the person who left me.
Anger is an ugly beast. It consumes you. It blinds you from anything positive in your life, and yet it’s an absolute necessity to getting out all the negative feelings that so many hold within. We have to embrace those feelings to work through them.
In everyday life you’ll find yourself angry at the boss who fired you, possibly yourself for not doing something extra to make that good impression that could have kept your job. ‘What is meant to be will be’, look for the open door awaiting you and let of of the anger as soon as you can.
It almost never fails when we lose someone we love we ask God to please take us instead. We make promise that we normally wouldn’t ever think of making, we bargain.
In the previous example of losing ones job, we also bargain.
*”What if I do this? Can I get my job back?
A loss of a significant other,
*”What if I change, would you take me back?”
Bargaining is a tool that has been used for centuries. Although in most cases it is completely ineffective.
Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, Depression is another consuming feeling. It can cause your mind to focus on unrealistic, negative things and cause further sadness and self-doubt. Depression is like being in a prison in your mind with no visual way out. We have a tendency to lose hope and feel that there will never be anything better than this very moment.
*I’ll never see my love again, My life is over. How can I live with out them?
*I’ll never find another job, I’m worthless. Nobody wants me.
It’s in the moments we are able to recognize our unrealistic thoughts, whether it be by ourselves or with a counselor, we are able to realize that our life isn’t over and there truly is hope for the future. All these things do not end our life, but teach us strenth and endurance. I wish I could say that none of us will ever have to face the stages of grief, but it’s all a part of life.
That moment when we give into the inevitable, We realize at this point we can’t change it so therefore we accept the change and move forward. Acceptance doesn’t mean we agree, it means we tolerate it. Energy is wasted in fighting a losing fight, so we might as well accept it and move on with our lives with a more positive attitude.
“I’ll miss my loved one, but they are no longer in pain and I’ll see them again.”
“I’m not getting my job back, but I’ll find another one.”
It’s not the end of the world, just the end of a chapter. Don’t let the past affect the great things in your future.
How Long it takes to get through.
There is no answer for this. No matter what anyone tells you, each person deals with grief in many different ways in their own time.
I have, myself gone from denial to anger, back to denial, to depression..It was an emotional roller-coaster, but it’s normal. There is no set way to progress from one stage to the other without the possibility of revisiting other stages. If we don’t find closure in each stage, we will revisit it.
Here are a few ways I’ve found to help through the grieving process.
- Feel each emotion. Don’t stuff it. Let it out and acknowledge it.
- Forgive yourself. Whether it was your fault or not, There was nothing you can do to change it. All you can do it learn from it. Take that opportunity.
- Get mad. Express the specific reasons why you are mad, and then let it go.. Anger does nothing to fix anything. It hurts you more than anything else.
- It’s normal to be sad, but don’t allow it to consume you. While you may not be able to see it now, there is light at the end of the tunnel…focus on it.
- Never Lose Hope. Even when it’s hard to see, it’s there…always.
My favorite saying of all time is this and have been source of inspiration to overcome grief. I hope it helps you as well.
- “God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”
- Until next time,
- ~Spread your wings and find peace,