Friday, March 15, 2013

Are My Feelings Normal? The 7 Stages of Grief Explained

Unfortunately, most individuals will face the loss of a loved one throughout their lifetime. That loss may be from a death, divorce, or the destruction of a friendship. Whatever it may be, most individuals will respond to this loss with grief. Grief is an expression of emotional pain that is specifically associated with the feeling of extreme pain and sorrow. When a person is grieving, they will often experience several different stages of their grief. The Seven Stages of Grief are loose interpretations of the stepping stones an individual experiences when facing a loss. These seven stages are good guidelines as to what to expect, however, there is much variance between individuals and the stages can occur out of order, multiple times, or at the same time as another stage.

The first stage is Shock and Denial. This stage is defined by an individual denying the loss of a loved one in an attempt to avoid the pain and suffering that is associated with their loss. Individuals often have a difficult time accepting reality and have trouble determining what has really occurred.

The second stage is Pain, Guilt, and Fear. With this stage comes a feeling of intense pain along with feelings that life is extremely chaotic or out of hand. Thoughts of guilt may occur and individuals may become fearful of their life ahead. They are fearful that they can not go on with life without the loved one.

The third stage is Anger and Bargaining. During this stage questions may arise like, "why me?" or "what did I do to deserve this?" This is a period of intense anger and hatred where emotional outbursts, the blaming of others, and bitterness often occurs. Other valuable relationships may possibly be destroyed as a result. An individual will begin to attempt negotiations with God in hopes to relieve their extreme suffering.

The fourth stage in the Seven Stages of Grief is Depression, Loneliness, and Reflection. This is a period where the loss fully sinks in, and an individual feels the full effects from the loss of a loved one. He or she feels like it is a battle to wake up every morning, and classic signs of depression appear including insomnia, loss of appetite, and hopelessness.

The fifth stage is called The Upward Turn. This is a period where an individual begins to make a turn for the better and starts to adjust to the loss. Their life becomes a little less stressful and a bit more organized. Depression symptoms start to disappear and the individual begins to feel a sense of calmness.

The sixth stage is called Reconstruction of Life and Working Through. In this stage, a person begins to rebuild their own life without the presence of the loved one. There is a desire to fix themselves and face the truths of their loss. They begin to realize the promise of the future and start to release the pain of the past.

The final stage is called Acceptance and Hope. This is a time where the individual may not be happy, but the grieving individual is capable of remembering the lost loved one without feeling devastating emotional pain. They are slowly recovering from grief with a new sense of life and responsibility. They may not return to the person they were before the loss, but they learn to deal with reality and move forward.

These stepping stones are just the beginning in ones journey in recovering from grief. The individual still has much to face, but they start looking forward to the future and find happiness in what the have. Once more, it is important to note that these Seven Stages of Grief are not the same for everyone, and every individual may face different challenges within their own personal journey to find the joy in life once again.

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