The main reason for this topic and content for my next blog post is because I recently lost a loved one who I held dear to my heart. When one loses a loved one the pain we experience consumes us so much that we find it really difficult to live our lives normally again. We may find it difficult to maintain the balance and routine we once had. Death is something we cannot control. However, the people who leave us behind, their memories will always be etched in our hearts.
I love promoting mental health; so here are five stages of grief that are essential to work through whether it is with a psychologist, counselor, trusted family member or friend. Often people repress their emotions, unable to cope with their feelings and emotions. This sometimes happen when we are grieving or it could be the personality a person may have. Some may get stuck at the depression stage which is dangerous. I cannot stress how important it is to reach out to someone during your time of need.
The stages that I am about to explain do not necessary occur in specific order. A person may move between the stages before achieving a more peaceful acceptance of the death.
1. Denial: This is the first stage. Here, life seems meaningless and overwhelming. A person may be in shock and unable to see a way forward. The individual may even feel numb. One needs to accept the reality of the shock in order to start the healing process. However, the feelings that you once denied will start to surface itself. This is where one needs to work through their emotions.
2. Anger: This is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger even if it may feel intense. As soon as you start to feel your anger you will notice it starting to dissipate. Anger may extend towards your friends, family, doctors and it may even be towards the person who has passed on. This sometimes may show the intensity of the love you share with that person.
3. Bargaining: At this stage some people may lose themselves in thought. They may start thinking words of “If only”, “What if”. You may even want to go back in time and find the illness sooner, spend more time with the person. The “if” only statements makes one find faults in themselves and start thinking how they could have done things differently. Sometimes at this stage a person may be really stuck in the past.
4. Depression: This stage may feel like it will last forever. It causes a person to withdraw from life. They are in intense sadness, they may even wonder if there is any point in going on alone. Depression is natural way of dealing with loss but do not be stuck here for too long as it may turn into something long term.
5. Acceptance: Final stage and most important stage to the healing process. This stage is about accepting the reality of the situation. That the loved one is physically gone and recognizing that the new reality without them is permanent. We can never replace the person we have lost but we make new connections, new meaningful relationships. Instead of denying our feelings we must accept them, listen to our needs, move forward, grow and evolve. We will always have the memories of our loved ones. However, we need to grieve and give ourselves time to heal.
Easing the healing process of grief:
1. Understand that grief is a normal response when we lose someone dear to us. The intense heartache, sadness, disbelief, anger, guilt, tears and physical exhaustion. The rush of memories and the yearning to see your loved one last time is a normal process.
2. Allow yourself to mourn: This means sharing your grief with people who are also grieving or people who want to support and be there for you. This helps lessen the intensity of grief and helps you adapt to the loss.
3. Look to others for support. It is important to reach out to family members or friends during this time. Allow people in. Do not isolate and block out the world this can be detriment to yourself. Be open to their comfort. Do not reject anyone who wants to be a part of this journey with you.
4. Take care of yourself: Common physical symptoms one may experience is disrupted sleep, loss of appetite and lack of interest in everyday tasks. Be mindful of your health and do not neglect your health. Try to get adequate sleep, eat healthy and get enough exercise. You might find including a friend in your meal or going somewhere may keep you motivated.
Remember grieving is a process. It is different for everyone, it depends on your own personality and your relationship to the person you have lost. However, over time the grief will become subdued. Always remember be patient with yourself, cherish the memories as that will be with you forever.