By: Angelica Garcia
What is grief? According to the dictionary grief is “deep sorrow, especially when caused by someone’s death.” The dictionary can give you a simple sentence on how they think the world perceives the word grief, but to many, the meaning goes much deeper.
Here is the thing. Anyone can tell you a brief sentence what grief is, but what they can not tell you is how to deal with it. Losing someone is very difficult. The healing time is different for everyone. It can take months, years, and some may never recover. Everyone deals with grief a different way but at some point they will go through these five stages: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Stage One: Denial and Isolation
We use this stage to help us deal with the pain. No one wants to hear bad news, so we block it out. We go on like nothing has happened,like everything is okay. It is not, and deep down, we know that everything is not okay, but we tend to ignore it anyways.
Stage Two: Anger
Once reality starts to kick in, we feel the pain. Everything we have been trying to shield ourselves from comes like a tsunami. We are in so much pain; we are angry. We are angry at the person who has died. They caused us pain, and instead of being hurt we channel our pain into rage. We are angry at the person who caused their death and those who could have prevented it from happening. We are angry at ourselves. We are angry that we are feeling this way.
Stage Three: Bargaining
We now feel vulnerable and helpless. We want to regain control of everything, of our feelings, and of the situation. We start to think of all the things we could have done differently, the things we should have said. Maybe we could have helped prevent this from happening, someway, somehow. We want someone to blame. We start to point out the ways people have fault in the situation. We accuse our friends, family, doctors, and even ourselves.
Stage Four: Depression
Now after all the anger and helplessness passes, we give ourselves time to just be sad. Some people want to be all alone to mourn, while others would rather be surrounded by loved ones. Both ways are totally fine, but we have to make sure to take care of yourself in the process. Being sad is normal. We have to allow yourself to feel. We have to feel in order to get better.
Stage Five: Acceptance
Not many people who lost a loved one allow themselves to come to terms with what happened. Some people do not get past the anger and depression. Some of us lose themselves to the point where it seems like there is no coming back. When we do not allow ourselves to feel, to get past these stages, we are stopping the grieving process. If we do not allow ourselves to grieve we will not reach acceptance.
Not all of us allow ourselves to feel the grief; we do not want to feel anything so we may turn to other things such as drugs, alcohol, and some even seek revenge. We use these things to try to make us feel better or to hide the fact that we are hurting. These things may help but only for a short period of time. They give us temporary relief from our pain. Once the drugs and alcohol wear away, we will be right back to hurting. We are running from dealing with this situation. We are avoiding the problem. By doing that we are not helping. We are causing more pain to ourselves and those around us. Getting high or drunk, and making decisions based on anger are not going to change anything.
Some positive ways to cope
- Let yourself cry. When we are hurt, we cry. We are human; it is natural. We should try to avoid letting our feelings build up, that can cause depression, breakdowns, stress, etc.
- Talk about it. If we do not feel comfortable talking about it with other people there are other ways to express ourselves. We can write a journal and include some memories and how we feel after losing someone we cared about. We can also write a poem or a song expressing how we feel.
- Preserve memories. We can make a memory box and include things that may remind us of that person; things like photos, quotes, songs, funny memories, etc. Another thing we can include in our box is a letter to that person. We can tell them our favorite memories, explain to them the ways they have impacted our life, and tell them how we are feeling.
- Talk to others who are going through the same thing as us, or have experienced losing someone. Talking to people who have also lost someone is good because they can relate to how we are feeling, they understand what we are going through. We all can be there for one another. We can help each other get through this tough time.
Losing a loved one is of the most difficult things we will have to go through in life. We just have to believe that things will get better. We can overcome this pain. There are many other people who understand how we are feeling. We are not alone. Everyone heals at their own pace. It can take week, months, maybe even years, but if we let ourselves grieve one day thing will eventually get better. We will wake up one day and the grass will be greener, the sky will be bluer, flowers will smell better, and your world will be a little brighter. To allow ourself to feel the pain is to grieve and to grieve is to be able to accept and move on. Moving on is hard but just because it is hard does not mean it is any less important for us to do. Smile at the memories, laugh at the fun times you had. Celebrate the life of the loved one you lost, don’t mourn their death. Moving on is not forgetting, it does not mean we love them any less or do not miss them anymore. We are doing what is best for ourself and our future. It takes a strong person to be able to move on and you are strong, we are strong and together we can all get through this.