Coping With The Different Stages Of Grief
Loss and traumatic events can happen when you least expect them. Even when there is time to prepare, it doesn’t make the overall process any easier. Grief is grief and can become quite consuming.
Knowing how to manage your grief and cope throughout the stages is paramount to surviving the process. Here are some helpful tips for your journey.
Stage One: Denial
Experiencing any form of loss or traumatic experience can take time, not only to heal, but also to begin to absorb the news and accept the process. Denial is a common defense mechanism to avoid facing the difficult situation.
You can’t begin to move along this journey until you’re truly ready. When that time comes, the first step in coping is processing and accepting your new reality. Face your situation and start creating a plan for your future in this new version. Grief can be a messy, unpleasant experience. Acknowledge that fact and allow yourself some grace.
Stage Two: Anger
Once you have accepted this new reality and can acknowledge that something traumatic has happened, it is likely going to come with a lot of feelings and emotions. Many of these are probably negative or unpleasant. Again, that is common and acceptable.
Coping with this stage heavily revolves around feeling your feelings. Name them. Describe them. Allow yourself the time to process through them rather than trying to dance around or suppress them. Healing comes from owning what you may or may not be feeling. Don’t feel bad for being angry. You are a strong person and managing your feelings is possible.
Stage Three: Bargaining
After moving through your feelings, it’s normal to travel down a road of “what ifs” or alternative scenarios. You may even find that you blame yourself for what happened. Unfortunately, what happened has happened and there is no ability to go back in time and undo actions.
Blaming yourself will not change the outcome. Whether you believe in religion, spiritual guidance, fate, or some other power, know that everything happens for a reason. You can’t focus your efforts or mental energy on blaming yourself.
Stage Four: Depression
Accepting your situation, feeling your feelings, and moving past the blaming stage can be exhausting and overwhelming. As this reality sets in more over time, feelings of helplessness or hopelessness can start to creep in. Monitor this.
Use your support system throughout this time. You’ve chosen your circle of people for a reason; this is why you have them. Lean on them when you’re struggling or having a rough day. Force yourself to go out for a meal, go to a movie, or attend a live music event. Whatever brings you joy on a regular day can be extremely helpful here.
Focus on self-reflection and weigh in on the positive things in your life. If your reflections and support system are not helping, professional resources are always available.
Stage Five: Acceptance
As you move along the stages, the last stage is acceptance. You should be returning to your normal self and beginning to feel less pain. That loss will always be there, but how you approach it will be different.
It is important during this time, and continuing moving forward, that you use self-care to cope with your grief. Engage in meditation practices, journaling, physical activity, sleep hygiene, proper nutritional practices, and any other activities that positively fuel your mind and body.
The grief process is not linear and will be different for everyone. Grief counseling can help process the many feelings surrounding a loss. If you’re in the midst of your grieving process and finding it difficult to cope, reach out to us for a consultation.