It’s never easy to lose someone close to you—especially a family member or a loved one you have cared for so long. Grief is a normal process, along with feeling sad, alone, and in some cases, guilty (even though you have done nothing wrong and did everything you could).
Since every situation is different and we all have diverse self-defense mechanisms, the stages of grief might change and vary from person to person. Some people could stay in one phase for an extended period, while others might go through it quickly.
Here we will review the most common causes, symptoms, and stages of grief. By the end of this article, you will understand your pain better and how to cope with it.
The Five Stages of Grief
Symptoms of grief differ from person to person; however, we all go through all stages at some point. Nevertheless, It is essential to understand and have closure in every step of grief.
It is also important to end with the acceptance stage; we will discuss it briefly.
Denial is usually acknowledged as the first stage of grief. Many of us can’t fathom someone close to us passing away and never seeing or speaking to them again. It might even feel surreal. Denial is clinically categorized as a defense mechanism. When a traumatic event occurs without warning, the brain might not choose not to recognize the event so that it can slowly process and accept the circumstances.
Some people may embody denial as acting as though it never happened or refusing to discuss the situation. No matter how hard this moment as a loved one is, it is essential to listen and encourage the person in denial. Suppose they choose to tell stories of the departed loved one; this is how they are slowly accepting the loss.
People could stay in this stage of grief for longer than recommended, which could worsen the situation. If you or someone you know has been in denial for an extended time, we recommend seeking professional help. Since living in denial will prevent you from healing and result in other issues down the road.
It is important to note that if someone you love is in denial, you should not force them out of the denial phase. Instead, offer support and try to help guide them towards psychological help.
It is almost impossible not to wonder how things would be if it had gone differently. It happens even with the smallest of things. When a loved one is gone, this symptom could be ever present in your mind.
Bargaining is not as common as the other symptoms because it depends on the person and the situation resulting in the loved one being parted from them.
But here is the good news, you did everything you could; doctors, medicine, therapy, all these and more were provided for your loved one. There are some things we have no control over.
The loss of someone we love invariably leads to sadness; if the feeling stays for an extended period, depression might develop. Again, this might change from person to person and the circumstances of the situation.
Depression translates to a lack of energy or the will to do something. In many cases, depression could stop us from completing daily tasks like walking, exercising, or even caring for ourselves.
Depression should always be treated by a professional, despite what society might think. Some people have a misconception about psychologists, but recent trends advocate seeing a therapist. In many cases, it’s necessary, and in most cases, it is better to start sooner than later.
If depression lasts for three months or more, do not try to overcome this yourself and seek therapy as soon as possible.
Believe it or not, anger is a positive sign. It means that you are gaining strength again. Do not be hard on yourself. It is normal if you are grumpy or irritated towards silly day-to-day things.
You could get angry with yourself, with people you know, and even get mad at the person you lost—a perfectly normal response.
In any case, anger could be used as an impulse to return to normal. Why? Because when correctly used along with your therapist, you can hone that feeling, retake your strength, and enjoy your life again.
It’s not easy to get here. If you get to this point, then congratulate yourself. Acceptance is the key to retaking your life. You accept that you did everything you could and that the doctors did what they could.
Life is a journey, and on many occasions, we have no control over it. We have to accept how life unfolds with different challenges.
Each step needs acceptance on its own to move forward. Remember, each stage might vary depending on the situation, the relation to the person who passed away, and your personality.
We highly recommend having a specialist by your side. It will make the process much more manageable and comprehensive. A specialist along your side will help you to deal with each stage better and quicker.
It is important to note that the acceptance stage does not mean you will never be sad about losing your person again. There will be moments in your life when the sadness will come back; however, the pain should not be as intense. For example, if you lose your mother at a young age, you may feel sadness at your graduation, wedding day, the birth of your child(ren), etc.