Grief is a natural process which requires time. How you cope with grief depends on many things, such as, personal beliefs, to the present stressors you may be experiencing at the time of the loss. Emotions can be overwhelming and getting through each day may be difficult. There are no clear rules or guidelines for the grief process. People resolve their grief in their own time and in their own way. I am listing 5 common stages of grief, though not all phases of grief.
Denial and Isolation is the typical first reaction to a loss. It is normal to want to deny the loss and isolate oneself from others to be able to avoid talking about the experience and how the experience is affecting you.
Once the shock of the loss has subsided, it is normal to feel angry. Angry that the loss happened, angry at oneself or others for letting it happen and angry that the world is “unfair.” Anger can also be displaced onto others, such as lashing out at others, or taken out on oneself. This phase is running on pure emotion and is normal.
This is a persons way of attempting to postpone grieving for the loss. People hope they will be rewarded if they have good behavior or do good deeds for others. A normal response.
Anger may be replaced by feeling numb and experiencing profound sadness which can lead to feelings of depression and a sense of helplessness/hopelessness and loss. This is a natural part of experiencing and resolving grief. In other words, normal.
This is when you are ready to accept the reality of what has happened. The grieving process will not be able to be resolved without acceptance of the loss. Once this happens, you are able to move forward because the loss has been put in its proper context. Also normal.
Circumstances surrounding a loss can make grieving complicated. For example, a sudden or unnatural death (any act of violence) makes the grieving process more difficult. It can also be difficult to accept when a young person or child dies. Often there are feelings of guilt and helplessness following the death of a loved one. It is common and normal to feel guilt and think: “Why couldn’t I have done something to prevent this from happening?” This is called “survivors guilt” and is another normal reaction to loss. It is important to allow yourself time to process the event and to talk though the different feelings you may be experiencing. People can experience a wide range of emotions in a short time. Please be reminded not everyone goes through the above stages at the same time. You may experience a unique grieving process and may not follow the stages mentioned above.