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5 stages of grieving

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Grieving is a roller coaster of emotions. After I lost my uncle my emotions have been changing constantly. I am not quite sure how I should be dealing with them. Writing down my different emotions just looks like a mess on the page. I didn’t even realize I could experience them all so close together. These feelings are leaving it so difficult to keep my mind focused on my day to day life. Of course, our bodies are going through a range of emotions: our hearts are broken. Know that your body and mind need time to heal.

Are there really stages in which we grieve? Or are we living in a different world? Below we will discuss the defined stages of grieving. I want you to know that the process of grieving is different for everyone and we do not necessarily go through all of the stages nor do we go through them in a particular order.

Shock & denial

Many of the losses I have experienced are of close family members that are across the country and a few members in other countries. Not being able to attend the funerals and experience the reality of their passing has left me in shock for a long period of time. Even after I have the chance to visit and realize that they are no longer there, their passing just doesn’t seem real. How can life suddenly end? What is their soul experiencing now they are no longer on earth? No matter how many times you go to the place they were, it doesn’t feel right. The place doesn’t seem real without them. I am always waiting for their return. Who knows, someday we may meet again.

Pain & guilt

The pain of losing someone we love is as painful as any physical injury. How and when will the pain stop? This feeling of your heart being shattered into tiny pieces seems at times impossible that they will ever be put back together. Will they? Heart-ache is like a jig-saw puzzle. In the beginning, all the pieces are everywhere; it takes time, patience, and a lot of work to put the pieces together. Then you get to the end of the puzzle and you realize there are pieces missing. This can be frustrating as you have put a lot of time into putting everything back together. At this point, you have to accept that the piece is gone. Someone else has that piece – that piece of your puzzle belongs to someone else. Just like the loved one you lost holds a piece of your heart forever.

Anger & bargaining

“What if…” and “if only…” may be some of the thoughts we experience during the grieving process. When I experience this bargaining situation with myself, I try to see the positive opportunities that evolve from these thoughts. I try to make improvements in my life and relationships with others so I don’t feel this anger of wishing I did more. Trust me, it’s not an easy way to think but small steps towards using these thoughts are lessons to improving your life. What if I didn’t work as much? Maybe I would have had more quality time with them. These thoughts are your mind telling you something. Take more time to be with your loved ones. Make memories! But remember, there is only so much you can do. Try not to get caught up on the what-ifs. You did everything you could. Use them to improve upon your current situations.

Depression & reflection

The grieving process can be a time for reflection. Reflecting on your memories–and future dreams–make you appreciate life in a new manner. This can also be a very dark and lonely time. I urge you to reach out and talk with someone, anyone. Know that there are people there to listen and that care about how you are feeling. Losing a loved one leaves an emptiness in our body. Writing in a journal is a great way to reflect and get your feelings down on paper. Work through your grief and reconstruct your life in a way that will benefit you both short and long term. This process might provide you with some insight into deeper parts of your life. There will be better days.

Acceptance & hope

Like that missing puzzle piece, there eventually comes a time when we peacefully accept its absence. This does not mean that we are okay with the loss, more so that we have accepted the reality of their absence. Remember the good memories and have faith that you did everything you could. Have hope that you will meet again.

By no means is this the be all end all of the stages of grief or the process of losing a loved one. We all experience and understand loss differently. By nature, we want to minimize pain and maximize our happiness. Life is a journey, a journey that we can explore and learn more about ourselves every day.

I encourage you to join our free Grief Support Resource Library to download our free printable “30 Journal Writing Prompts – Working through Grief”. This worksheet was designed to help get you started on expressing your feelings, emotions, and memories on paper. The physical act of doing something will help transition through the grieving process. Setting aside a small amount of time each week to work through grief will prevent us from getting overwhelmed by all the grief at once. Remember to start small, healing takes time.

If you are experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts please reach out.

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