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What is grief?
Throughout our lives there will be various circumstances where grief is an unfortunate reality. Grief can occur following on from personal moments such as a bereavement, miscarriage, severe or terminal illnesses and trauma. Other types of loss include a divorce or split, learning to live without someone and losing a home or even a job.
Grief is expected when life as you knew it is no more. Grief is the outcome of someone losing the idea of what their future will look like following on from a loss. Grief comes in waves of intense feelings and there is no right or wrong way to heal.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, presented a model describing the five stages commonly experienced throughout the grieving process in 1969, also known as DABDA. The theory was originally developed illustrating the emotional challenges of patients who were terminal ill and the journey they go through as they come to terms with their own deaths. The model was later related to friends and family who grieved their loss and underwent a similar process.
What are the five stages of grief?
Denial is a stage where you may find yourself in a state of shock, confusion or overwhelmed. Within this stage it is known for a person to become numb to their loss and deny any part of the news. You may question how your life will go on following your loss or hope that there must have been a mistake.
The denial stage can create a preferable reality that one can live with, as opposed to facing actual reality. Denial is a vital step and a defence mechanism as the brain prepares us for when reality hits and others emotions associated with loss set in. When denial starts to fade, the process of healing will begin. Suppressed feelings will then surface.
Anger is a stage that can invite lots of questions and thoughts, such as ‘why me? Did I deserve this? Life’s not fair’, as well as doubts and questions around personal beliefs. Anger is commonly taken out on those closest to you and blame placed on them for your loss. Anger is a reaction to feeling hurt or alone, and it gives us something to hold onto and channel after feeling numb.
This stage is necessary and demands to be felt. The period of anger may feel forever ongoing, however, the more you acknowledge how you feel, the quicker the stage will pass. The balance between suppressing anger and being able to control the demanding emotion is crucial. Seeking help from a therapist can be extremely helpful if you are struggling with issues of anger.
In the bargaining stage, people may have false hope that they can avoid the stages of grief. At this stage changes in life choices are made with the hopes that it will result in “normality.”
Alongside bargaining comes guilt. Often people wonder about the ‘what ifs’ that could have changed the tragic outcome. For example, ‘What if I had made him see someone? The accident would have never happened. What if I would have been there for him more? What if I had worked from home that day? None of this would have happened.’
As to be expected, a loss and life change is commonly associated with depression. In this stage we react to our emptiness and withdraw from daily life, such as not getting out of bed, not leaving the house, and refusing to talk to anyone. The thought of their reality and the outside world can be overwhelming. It can often invite the question ‘What is the point?’ or ‘It should have been me.’
This final stage of grief is the process of facing the reality of loss and knowing that you will be okay. This stage involves the stabilisation of emotions and coming to terms with the “new” reality of what life will look like for you going forward.
Acceptance is not thinking the situation is okay, but knowing you can heal and move forward. Accepting that there will be good days and bad days and starting to get back to the basic parts of life, such as working and socialising.
Coping with Grief
- When going through your journey through grief, it is important to remember that all of your emotions and feelings are normal and valid. Allow yourself time to acknowledge how you feel and to come to terms with it.
- Do not compare yourself to others. Everyone grieving is on their own journey and how people are dealing with it will differ based on many distinct factors, such as their relationship with the deceased, the age of the deceased, their last moments together, their mental health and how other family members are coping.
- Move at your own pace. Take a break if you need it and try not to move too quickly or overdo things.
- Introduce yourself to coping mechanisms, such as exercise, meditation, writing in a journal, reading or gardening.
- Always be kind to yourself.
- Ask for help. There are many different resources for those who are grieving. including support groups and therapy sessions.
Speak to us at Leone Centre
Our highly experienced and professional therapists take a mindful and patient approach to meet your needs and move forward at a pace that works for you.
At Leone Centre we can provide online counselling sessions via Zoom and in-person counselling sessions via our offices in Fulham and Kensington. Call us now on 0203 930 1007 or alternatively click on the Leone Centre scheduling link.