I was recently saddened by the tragic news of the death of a beautiful young woman who left many disbelieving friends and family members behind. Of course, I had the same reaction as many: shock, disbelief, confusion, sadness, and many other conflicting emotions. I hope this blog post will help to provide some information regarding common reactions to the trauma of losing a loved one and ways to help heal ourselves and one another.
Grief is a natural response to loss and as we all are unique individuals, we also all grieve differently. Just remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve — although there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. For example, when you allow grief to be expressed and experienced, it has a potential for healing that eventually can strengthen and enrich your life. Also, there is no timetable or deadline for healing. Healing is a process that happens gradually and cannot be forced or hurried.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross described “five stages of grief” in her book “Death and Dying” published in 1969. Most people experience these emotions following the loss of a loved one, although some may not experience any or all of these emotions or they may not experience them in order.
Five Stages of Grief
- Denial: At first, we tend to deny the loss has taken place and may withdraw from our usual social contacts. This stage may last a few moments or longer.
- Anger: Then we may be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt , or at the world, for letting it happen. We might be angry with ourselves for letting the event take place, even if, realistically, nothing could have stopped it.
- Bargaining: We may make bargains with God, asking, “If I do this, will you take away the loss?”
- Depression: We then feel numb, although anger and sadness may remain underneath.
- Acceptance: This is when the anger, sadness and mourning have tapered off. We then simply accept the reality of the loss.
Most people are unprepared for grief and might experience an incredible amount of stress in response to the tragedy. Allow yourself to go through the stages of grief and do not forget to take care of yourself.
“There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.” – Author Unknown