Anyone who has ever experienced the painful effects of loss has also experienced feelings of sadness and grief. It's normal to grieve after a loss such as the death of a family member, a job loss, or other major life change. However, grieving differs from person to person in how intense it can be. After experiencing the loss of your loved one or a major life change, there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
The first stage of the grieving process is denial. People experience this stage when they are dealing with the actual loss. Denial prevents people from accepting the truth about their demise. As you work with a professional counselor, you'll learn coping skills to help you get past this stage. Many times people don't realize how much their lives have changed after the loss. A therapist will help you discover how much the "real" you is slipping away and how this is preventing you from experiencing your "true" life.
Anger is the next stage of the grieving process. People suffer from anger after the loss of their loved ones and often these feelings are out of control. When you are trying to cope with your grief, don't engage in the physical expression of anger. Instead, talk to a counselor to find coping strategies for expressing anger in a way that will remain in control.
Bargaining is the third stage of grief. You feel bad because you lost your loved one and this causes you to seek revenge. If revenge is the last thing you want, you should try to find ways to deal with the pain without resorting to violence. A professional counselor can help you learn how to forgive so you can move forward in your life instead of harboring the fear that your loved one died too soon. Holding on to anger can prevent you from truly healing.
Understanding the stages of grief is essential if you want to move forward and find healing. Each stage is not necessarily painful. For instance, this first stage is not physically painful. However, many people mistake this second stage as being physically painful when in reality it's a deeper emotional experience. It's during this stage that your mind and body connect to your heart and from there, it's a short step to forgiving. You may feel angry or shameful, but this is the natural reaction.
Moving forward is much easier when you understand why you are moving forward. For instance, if you grieve following the death of your loved one but this loss was not your loved one's fault, then you likely feel anger. In this case, simply acknowledging the anger and learning to face it head-on will move you forward. However, if you grieve because you lost a partner, child, or close friend you will likely need help from a support group. With the right group of people to share with your significant loss with, you'll be able to work out your emotions and learn coping mechanisms to effectively deal with your grief.
Moving forward with your grief requires strength and determination. If you feel overwhelmed and you don't know how to start, enlist the help of friends and family to help you through this difficult time. Remember that everyone has different ways of dealing with their losses. You need to find the healthy way to handle the pain of your loss. This is what will ultimately allow you to move forward with your life.
Many people confuse grief with sadness. While both emotions are important, sadness is typically a much more temporary emotion and grief is generally a longer-term experience. Although you may feel sad at times, don't let sadness rule your life as it can do great damage. In addition, if you are feeling sad because of the loss of a loved one, seek support so you can deal with your feelings of sadness in a healthy way.
Steve Schafer is the founder of TheEulogyWriters and is probably the most prolific eulogy writer (and, no doubt, the best) anywhere. He lives in Michigan and has been writing eulogies for well over thirty years. The articles in this blog are designed to help people through the process of losing loved ones.