We all experience grief. It is, unfortunately, a natural part of life. When the ones that we love pass on, it has a profound effect on us, the survivors, and we struggle to live life without the departed, long after their funerals.
Acknowledging your loss, allowing yourself to grieve, and feeling the hurt, though overwhelming, are essential and healthy steps to learning how to cope. That’s why it’s so important to know what to expect along this journey.
Remember that grief is personal. There is no set progression or time-limits to its stages. We will each experience the process in our own way.
You will, in this first stage, react to learning of your loss with shock and numbed disbelief. The shock gives you emotional protection from being overwhelmed, and you will likely deny its reality, just to escape its raw knowledge.
Shock wears off and is replaced by intense pain. It is essential that you experience it fully. It is your mind’s way of acknowledging its wound. There will also be guilt over things you did or didn’t do with your loved one, or even that you’re making other people’s lives harder with your emotions and needs.
You may lash out towards others and lay unwarranted blame. Try your best to control this stage, as you must avoid damage to other relationships. You will also probably try to bargain with higher powers that you will do anything to have your loved one returned.
You begin to realise the true magnitude of your loss. It is an enormous weight. You may feel depressed, focussing solely on memories of the past. You may isolate yourself to deal with your grief, but know that it’s vital to maintain a support system of people. Funerals are especially important in knowing who is there for you.
Life goes on, as it does, and you start to adjust to living it without your loved one. Living becomes calmer and more organised, and your despair starts to lift. This is the middle stage of grief, and by sensing a dawn to come, you will feel strengthened and motivated, and begin to reawaken.
You will begin to rebuild your life. You will seek realistic solutions to practical problems that you no longer share with your loved one. You become more functional, determined, and refreshed, and you begin reconstructing your life.
This is the final stage of grieving. It does not mean that you are over your loss. It simply means that you have acknowledged your pain and feel okay with moving forward. Your loved one will always be there, forever in your memories, and you will be grateful for the time you shared.
Remember, grief is intensely personal. It is a long and arduous journey – from that first shocking news, through mourning and funerals, until you reach a state of coping. If you ever need help coping with its feelings, please reach out for the support of a mental health professional.