“From disconnection to love” series
How we deal with grief depends on many factors, such as age, history of love and loss, and life experiences. It is essential to talk about loss and sadness. There are five stages of grief, according to Kubler-Ross (1998), and I will outline the stages here:
1. Denial and isolation are when you first know the news, and there is a state of shock. In denial, we believe it is impossible, and this denial is what helps you to keep balance; following this, there may be a period of personal isolation.
2. Anger is the next stage, where relationships can become complicated, and a hostile environment can often be felt. When the anger has subsided, it can be that,
3. Bargaining is happening; this is where prayers and spiritual practices are used as coping strategies.
4. Depression is the next stage when it can no longer be denied. A feeling of overwhelming loss and sadness that results in depression takes over with regret, tiredness, crying and lack of interest.
5. The last stage is when Acceptance happens—a moment of hope and serenity.
The above stages are not linear, and it’s important to note that each person grieves their losses in their way at different stages and times. When there is loss, there is emptiness, which needs to be filled; otherwise, it can feel tough to manage and function. Death is inevitable, but many ignore this fact because it seems too painful; grief can feel like sadness and depression, shock, disbelief, and numbness.
Grief is when care is lost, and we panic and confuse. Especially as children, when we have experienced abandonment, the care has gone away. It is too overwhelming to manage, and that grief gets stuck inside us. If nobody is there to help us grieve, then it is suppressed in our systems as little ones, and it gets stuck and eventually comes out in illnesses or rage.
As adults, we can have unresolved grief from childhood, and also, of course, we can grieve for adult losses; however, if you don’t know how, it can become challenging. Overwhelming mixed feelings from confusion to relief, uncontrollable crying to crying every night gently for years without knowing why you are doing so, to hostility.
So many feelings and emotions that seem out of our control can seem like it is never-ending, but there is an ending to the process, and the cycle of the stage that it’s important to understand will take as long as it takes; people mourn in their ways, and the way that they do is dependent on culture, rituals; the expectations of the society and its customs. For example, my grandmother died when I was sixteen years old; I have never recovered from that loss fully because I had nobody to talk to. I was angry and blamed myself; I blamed the catholic nun who told me to stop crying at her funeral and just threw myself into working like a dog so I did not feel anything.
Grief is complicated if you have nobody to talk to. It is not a mental health problem; it is a natural part of life, and when we can experience that over time, a sense of it getting better is good. However, some people have such a strong reaction to the loss that a diagnosis of complicated grief could be made. Complicated grief is often when other losses have been acknowledged and not acknowledged and processed.
In denial, there will be shock, panic and disbelief – “It can’t be true.”
You will blame yourself or others in anger-“Why me?”
In depression, feeling tired and hopeless – “What’s the point?”
In bargaining, feeling guilty, “If only I had done more.”
In Acceptance, being prepared to move forward
The grieving process cannot be rushed, but a trusted guide can accompany it.