Understanding the 5 Stages of Grief
Grieving Through Loss
The 5 stages of grief can be difficult for anyone to handle, particularly because they’re already handling the insurmountable loss of a loved one. Of course, as we are all individuals, we all have different lengths of each stage before moving through bereavement. Bayer Cemetery Brokers has helped countless families and friends over the years buy and sell cemetery plots. As part of the business, we’ve had a hand in dealing with the difficult task of meeting people at an unfortunate time. These are times where the last thing on their mind was buying a cemetery plot for a loved one who has left them prematurely. Having dealt with stages of grieving, we want you to be able to have a better understanding of the 5 stages of grief.
1. Denial: As the first stage of the grief cycle, it’s the beginning process that we naturally go through, and a necessary one. This stage prevents us from dealing with loss quicker than we actually need to. Almost as if our mind is protecting us from the devastation so we can handle things in a manner that is timely for our heart and spirit. According to Psych Central a phrase that we often utter to ourselves is “this isn’t happening. This can’t be happening.” It’s a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. As we close ourselves off from the severity of the truth, we hide from it to get through the pain.
2. Anger: This is one of the trickier stages because anger has so many other emotions attached to it that range from disappointment to frustration. Anger can also be directed towards many things, such as death itself, a higher power, your loved one for leaving you, or even at those who are still with you. It’s probably the most powerful stage because it’s the one we all know how to access on a daily basis. We’re angry about missing our bus, angry about our favorite restaurant making a mistake on our order, angry towards getting parking tickets, to countless other daily happenings that can make us angry. Trauma Counselor Dr. Maria Stella displays five ways we deal with anger:
1. Stuffer: Not aware anger is there
2. Hinder: Aware anger is there but doesn’t show it, then dumps it
3. Dumper: Stores it up and gives it to someone else
4. Venter: Let’s it out.
5. Triangulator: Goes to someone else to complain about it
Anger is a stage you have to be conscious of to manage properly. Using the ways we deal with anger from Dr. Maria Stella you’ll be able to recognize that you’re feeling this stage and being present to that means you can do something about it.
3. Bargaining: Grief.com details this stage as a person becoming “lost in a maze of ‘if only’ or ‘what if’ statements. We want life returned to what it was, we want our loved one restored, and we want to go back in time.” In this stage we’re bargaining with the universe to change things. The problem with this stage is it causes us to “find fault in ourselves and what we think we could have done differently.” As if our actions could’ve changed the inevitable. With bargaining, remember to focus on facts and actualities, and move on from wondering about the “what ifs.”
4. Depression: The saddest of the stages, but the most cathartic, once you make an actual connection to the depths of these feelings. In this stage we’ve moved beyond the past and the “what ifs” and the anger and we focus on how we feel in the present time. The loss has finally hit us in a way that we can recognize and acknowledge. But for a lot of people acknowledging the loss and the sadness can be overwhelming. With depression, many physical symptoms can occur like poor sleep, loss of appetite, stress, and weight loss. Remember in this phase to stay connected to your community or loved ones, even when you don’t feel up to it, so you can be around people who share how you feel. Staying connected will help you get over that feeling of being lost because of the loss you have suffered.
5. Acceptance: It’s important to understand that this stage is often looked at as a person “moving on” from what’s happened. But that’s not the case. Nobody ever moves on from losing a loved one. The loss becomes part of the “new norm” as you continue to just “move forward” with your life, your work, your experiences, and the loved ones around you in the present. Accepting the loss of a loved one is about understanding the scope of what happened and dealing with it through the four previous stages to get you to this stage.
Understanding the 5 stages of grief after suffering a loss can help you grasp with what’s happened and how to move forward with everything; with your life, with your memories of your loved one, and with your new journey. Be patient with yourself and let yourself move through the stages of bereavement naturally. As Grief.com puts it, “we begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.”