Grief is a process, which is on-going. Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross popularized a five-stage model of the grief process. She concluded that people often fo through five stages as they cope with loss. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In the first stage, a person denies the obvious: “He can’t be dead!” In the second stage, there is a lot of anger — often directed at God — over the loss. There is often a “Why me?” attitude. Guilt comes into play in the third stage. “If only we had gone to another doctor. If only we had tried alternative therapies…If only…” As one enters the fourth stage, he/she realizes the full impact of the loss, and a deep sadness results. In stage five, people begin to realize that while life will never be the same, it still holds many good things. While forever changed by their loss, they make the choice to start enjoying life’s blessings again.
Some Suggestions for Moving Through Grief
Talk about your grief with a caring listener — someone who will allow you to freely express your feelings. If you don’t have a strong support network of family and friends, a priest/minister or a counselor could be helpful. Family members may not be the ideal people with whom to share your grief because they are grieving themselves. A friend or an outsider such as a minister or a counselor may be a better choice for this reason. You may want to consider joining a support group where you will meet others who have been where you are and who can share strategies that have helped them cope as they worked through the grief process.
Grief is hard work. Therefore, you need to take good care of yourself while you are grieving. Bereaved people are an at-risk population, especially during the first year of bereavement. The bereaved are more vulnerable to physical illness then the general population, so take care to eat nutritious foods, to get proper rest and to exercise in order to maintain your health.