The stages of grief and how to deal with it
Posted by AK Lander | On March 1, 2018 09:49
Grief is a natural response for people that have lost someone and here we take you through the different stages of it and how to deal with it.
Grief is a natural response for people that have lost someone that’s important to them. If you have lost a relative or family friend you can feel a number of emotions such as sadness or loneliness.
Many people go through different stages of grief and different things can trigger it; from just after the passing of a loved one to choosing headstones for the deceased and thinking about the message you want to put on it.
Here in this guide we look at the different stages of grief and how you can deal with it.
What are the stages of grief?
Jill M. Prince, the founder, owner and author of Strictly Stress Management, says, “Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (July 8, 1926 – August 24, 2004) is credited with identifying the 5 stages of grief in her ground-breaking book called ‘On Death and Dying (1969)’. Her 5 stages of grief are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance (D.A.B.D.A.).
“Other experts consider 7 stages of grief: 1) Shock and Denial, 2) Pain and Guilt, 3) Anger and Bargaining, 4) Depression, Reflection and Loneliness, 5) The Upward Turn, 6) Reconstruction, and Working Through, and finally, 7) Acceptance and Hope.
“Regardless of the school of thought, to which a person may subscribe, most would agree the process of grieving can be a long and arduous journey. At Strictly Stress Management, we feel having strong and effective stress management skills can go a long way to making the process easier to bear.”
It is important to note that you will not enter and leave each stage in a linear fashion and instead will flick in and out of different stages.
Denial is generally considered the first of the five stages of grief and it helps you to cope with the loss, although you will be in shock and will feel numb.
You might ask yourself how you can go on and why you should go on and often you will just try to find a way to get through the day.
As you accept the reality of losing a loved one and start to ask yourself questions, you are actually just beginning the healing process.
Anger is also a necessary stage of the healing process and the more you feel anger, the more it will begin to disappear.
Anger has no limits and you may find yourself feeling angry at anyone from your friends, family, yourself or even a stranger. It is common to feel misdirected anger, perhaps at someone who perhaps couldn’t attend the funeral, but this is natural as you’re faced with the pain of your loss.
During this stage of grief you often dwell on things you could’ve done to prevent the loss and you’ll think ‘if only’ and ‘what if’.
You may think that you want to rewind the clock so you can spend more time with your loved one and guilt is commonly a companion of bargaining.
At this stage sadness sets in as you begin to understand the loss and its effect on your life. Signs of depression include insomnia, crying and a lack of appetite. You may feel overwhelmed, regret and loneliness as well.
Grief is a process of healing and depression is a necessary step along the way to recovery. Take a look at the Live Happy website to find out some of the best books you can read about depression and anxiety.
The final stage of grief is acceptance as you come to terms with your loss and realise that it cannot be changed.
It is often confused with being all right or ok with what has happened, but this is not the case as you won’t ever feel ok about the loss of a loved one and you’ll still feel sad.
You will start to think about moving forward with your life and readjusting to the fact that your loved one is no longer there.
This part of grief could be experienced a few months after losing a loved one when you are visiting a cemetery. Cemeteries like the Dearne Memorial Group Barnsley Cemeteries Project: galleries, burials name search and historic information, will be able to look after your loved ones headstone so you can accept that your loved one is still being looked after
Tips to deal with grief
Experiencing a loss is an inevitable part of life, but it doesn’t make losing a loved one any easier. There are, however, some ways to help cope with the pain that will help you move on.
Jill M. Prince from Strictly Stress Management says emotional stressors can lead to a number of behaviours.
“Loss of a loved one is one of the greatest emotional stressors of all time. It can lead to many behaviours that can add additional stressors, such as chemical stress (addictions), physical stress (overworking, ignoring illness and pain) and electro-magnetic stress (immersing oneself in the use of technology as a way to avoid strong grief feelings).
“During times of grief, it is important to use my ‘3-R Stress Management Strategy’ to manage the stress of grieving... reduce, respond and repair.”
Try not to increase other stressors on the body. Reducing all types of stress should remain the goal. For example, a binge eating session may help the body get a temporary Dopamine (happy brain chemical) blast; however, it will be quickly followed by more Cortisol (the toxic stress hormone), when the person gains weight, and the grieving person will not feel better.
A shopping spree might gain a short burst of Serotonin (the respect hormone); however, the increased debt and financial challenges will bring more Cortisol later, and the bad feelings will return in full force or even get worse.
Respond effectively to the stressors that cannot be avoided (helping children grieve, demands of work, etc.) Using strategies like breathing, meditation, healthy diet and exercise can go a long way to lessening the effects of stress from grieving. In grief situations, focus should always be on increasing the flow of helpful brain chemicals (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, Endorphin and GABA), while also preventing a follow up blast of toxic Cortisol (feel bad hormone). Here are forty ways to respond to stress in a helpful manner.
No matter how hard we try, it is nearly impossible to avoid all the stress associated with grieving. For this reason, it is important to repair the damage that stress does to the body to avoid illness later. Using tools like EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) can help prevent the build-up of repressed emotion from grief. Repressed emotion can lead to serious illness and it can be difficult to avoid this during a period of grief.
Make time for activities you enjoy
If you particularly enjoy an activity, then you should keep doing it as this will help in the grieving process.
This may be playing football and snooker or going for a run or attending an art or cookery class. You might even want to consider taking up an activity you used to enjoy, but can no longer do.