Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Grieving Process

Whenever you deal with something traumatic such as a death of a loved one, it can be difficult to cope. However, you should always remember that there is no wrong or right way to grieve and everyone does so in their own way. Many people though do go through a certain process to help them cope with a loss. The process may not be typical for everyone, but most of us do go through this psychological process. Doing so allows us to understand what happened and learn how to cope. So, what is the process of grieving?

Psychiatrist, Elisabeth K羹bler-Ross, brought a theory to the psychiatric world in 1969 that said when people have to deal with something traumatic, like a death, illness, or even a break up, people go through certain emotional phases that help them deal with what has happened. This process was called the "five stages of grief". While there are "stages" that people seem to go through, they don't always have to go through them in order. For some people it may seem they do not actually go through any real grieving stages until after certain arrangements like funerals or wills have been settled. While this may seem unhealthy to some people, everyone goes through their own process and deals with their emotions differently. However, the five stages as suggested by K羹bler-Ross are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Denial is very common when it comes to trying to cope with a loss. A lot of time people who are in this particular stage of the process may seem as though they are numb and don't want to acknowledge what exactly has happened. Some times when a person looses a loved one they may still set the table for that extra person, or pack an extra lunch, or even buy something at the store that they would normally get for them. It may happen just out of habit, but the act might also be simply brushed away without any tears or note to what has happened. This is normal. Going through denial lets our mind slowly deal bit by bit with what has happened.

Anger can sometimes be confusing for the person who is going through it. Some people find that they are angry at a family member, doctor, or spiritual being. It is also common for the person to become angry with the deceased by blaming them for leaving them. A lot of people find that in this phase they ask "why me?" and try to blame someone for what has happened. Anger is very common when it comes to dealing with a loss or bad news.

Many people also find they begin to make different bargains. This means asking God or a different spiritual being if you can do anything to change it such as "I will do anything and everything to keep my wife safe if you just let her live." These bargains and emotions eventually lead to different "what if" or "if only" possibilities, like what if we got a second opinion, what if we caught the cancer sooner, so on and so forth.
The next stage is depression which can make us feel alone, extremely sad, and can even have physical effects on us as well like being tired, or sluggish, or have aches and pains. Depression is not a mental illness but if you feel as though you or someone you love has been depressed for a while, then going to see a psychiatrist may help the process so you can get out of this particular stage.

Acceptance is the next and last stage that people go through. This means that you are ok with what has happened. This doesn't mean that you can no longer be sad or upset; it is perfectly fine to still feel sad about what has happened. However, it does mean that you aren't depressed or having any severe emotional reactions as you had before and understand that you have lost someone dear to you. There is no set way for a person to grieve, and while there are 5 stages of grief, nothing says that someone has to go through them in a specific pattern. If you have lost someone know that it is ok to cry and perfectly fine not to cry too, or to take a few months or even a few years. People grieve in their own way and there is no right and wrong when it comes to dealing with something traumatic like a death of a loved one.

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