The 5 Stages Of Grief

The 5 Stages Of Grief

Something that we deal with more often than we think.
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Grieving is often associated with death. So why do we exclusively reserve such an important healing process to an already terrible inevitability? We should not grieve death, because death is more than a sad coffin in the ground and a heart-breaking eulogy. Nor is death the result of life. Death is the result of living. And for this reason, death should be celebrated, because life is easy, but living is terribly difficult. What people do not realize is that we cannot confine the grieving process to someone passing on. We must remember to grieve life, because with life comes change, loss, regret, and mistakes, which echo longer than just a singular moment. There has often been five stages associated with grief, and I think we can all resonate with this process in some degree throughout our lives. And once we painfully accept grief into the most reluctant parts of our heart, we will no longer experience the agony that comes along with confrontation, but we will only be confusing hurting for living.

1. Denial

Reality is the everlasting slap in the face that never fails to ruin our mood on a regular basis. Everyone is able to deeply fall into a dream, but at some point we all have to wake up. As for life, we can all hope for the best, but at some unannounced point we do indeed have to face reality. Denial tends to be the first stage of the grieving process because of how our body reacts to the actuality of things. Quite simply, we go into shock. In order for our mind and our body to handle what’s happening, we alter the reality in our eyes to be something that we are able to handle because at that point we are defending ourselves from all the pain and hurt that comes along with the truth. Of course, denial isn’t the most socially accepted trait to be forced to embody, but to an extent it’s necessary. Denial delays the impact of the change you have to grieve and let our mind choose to handle it at a different time.

I think the best way to handle someone who is experiencing this is to say what they don’t want to hear. Don’t let them linger in a false perception of their situation. Help them see that they have to face the truth and that they can’t hide from it or deny it. Don’t enable them. You might think you’re being a supportive friend, but you might just be preventing them from going through their own healing process. This process will indeed be terrible, but necessary.

2. Anger

Anger is chaos. It’s the most reckless release of emotions people tend to have. Which is why it is the second stage in the grieving process. Denial delays the emotions. Anger releases them. In my eyes, anger is the healthiest part of the grieving process. Everyone gets angry, but not everyone releases anger in a healthy way, let alone at all. At this point in grieving, you are no longer denying your situation. You see it how it is. As a result, you get aggressively irritated with everything not only involving the reason you are grieving but at everything. You have no reason or logic, all you have is an overload of emotion and very little control.

I say this is the healthiest part of the grieving process because at this point you are starting to establish a structure to your grief. You begin to realize what you’re feeling as a result of your reality and why exactly you’re feeling it. Even if it comes out sloppy and unorganized, clarity eventually comes along with the outlet of emotions. So get upset. Let in every terrible emotion that comes along with this grief. Then let it go.

3. Bargaining

This tends to be the stage of grieving where we blame ourselves. We try to figure out what we can do or what we could have done to not be where we currently are. Almost as if there was a step we missed along the way, and if we go back and complete that step, we will get everything back. You might be able to see now how this doesn’t only apply to death. Some people may try to think of what could have done differently, or if something can be changed to make it better again. Other might go deep into prayer, begging God for answers. Sadly, we sometimes just blame ourselves and slowly lose ourselves in the infinite fathoms that revolve around how our tragic flaws may have been the result of where we are now.

Experiencing anger at such high intensities is painful and almost disorienting, so we try to figure out what we can fix to stop the pain and emotional tantrums. This obviously is necessary, because it does bring us to bargain, which is one of the many necessary parts of the healing process. We want to make deals or make changes to get back what has changed, but this stage is needed because not only does it pull us out of anger, but it throws us into sadness. And this progression between stages is finally brought on once we’ve found the tortuously evasive answer as to how we return things back to the way we want: we can’t.

4. Depression

If something is broken, you fix it. If something is lost, you find it. If you make a mistake, you make up for it. What about when you can’t do any of those things? What then? We’re raised on the idea that everything negative is reversible, but we’re never really taught what to do when it’s not. So we fall into depression. We deny ourselves the truth, we release all our emotions, and our bargains go unanswered. We hit limbo. This part of the healing process tends to slowly envelop you like quicksand. The more you try to fight it or find a shortcut out of it, the deeper in this stage you sink. As the "The Fault in Our Stars" may have already taught you, pain demands to be felt.

This stage is a time when a supportive friend might be needed. We all have to fight our own emotional battles, but we can be harder on ourselves than we should be from time to time. So it’s never a bad idea to have someone make sure you don’t sink too deep into the quicksand. But in order to truly move on you have to get out of it yourself.

5. Acceptance

Acceptance is the most interesting part of the five stages of grieving to me. I refer to these stages as the healing process, because the level of strength that is needed to reach acceptance after going through the first four stages is remarkable. Some people see the acceptance stage as getting closure. They’re mostly wrong. Not all of us get closure. There isn’t some underlying reason for everything that goes along with grieving. There’s no justification or happy ending. Acceptance is what you make out of your reality. It’s not how you move on or how you go on to live. It’s choosing to move on and live regardless of the actuality of your life. Closure assumes that in some way you fixed or rationalized something that happened to you. Acceptance is moving on regardless of closure.

A lot can happen while you go through this process. Changes can be made to your character. Perspectives can be gained that you didn’t already have. So to be able to experience all that pain and find a way to put it behind you takes an immense amount of strength. This stage can also motivate you to seek a healthy amount of isolation. Acceptance is not something anyone can give you but yourself, so once you find it, you might confide within yourself. It’s not an easy stage, and it’s not something that social media or surface level friendships can solve. After this realization, you might notice a healthy amount of independence in your life. Don’t confuse acceptance as the happy-ending part of the healing process, because it tends to be the quiet part of the process.

Cover Image Credit: http://usa.eclosure.com.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2014/11/LocnessDesignsdotcom.jpg

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Meditation Is Not A Perfect Practice, But It's Still Worth Your Time

You'll thank me later.

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I began doing yoga a few years ago, and I instantly loved it. The combination of stretching, mental relaxation, and emotional release is amazing. It creates a sense of zen and peace in my life that I can use during the stress that comes from school, work, and everyday life. But the one part of yoga that I am not in love with is the meditation aspect.

I absolutely dread meditation. I do not know what it is, but I can never quite seem to get my mind to quiet down. No matter how hard I try, there is always a million thoughts running through my brain. "Did I finish that homework assignment?" "Am I breathing too loud? Can other people hear me?" I become so focused on other things happening around me that I just can't seem to calm down and relax.

But meditation is not about just clearing your mind and going completely blank. It is about focusing on a single thought, object, or intention and just allowing those emotions and feelings to overcome you. Focusing on one intention in your life allows you to become focused and re-centered. Meditation is not a set in stone practice, it is adaptable based on each person's needs.

There are seven general types of meditation: loving-kindness meditation, body scanning meditation, mindfulness meditation, breath awareness meditation, kundalini yoga, Zen meditation, and transcendentalism meditation. Each of these general types can be adapted to fit ones specific needs in that time. All seven of these meditations offer stress release options to help with daily stressors and inconveniences.

There is no perfect way to meditate. Meditation can also be as simple as just closing your eyes and simply breathing for a few seconds while focusing on one important thing in your life to help you remain grounded. There is no one set meditation type that works for all people. Some people enjoy all of the forms or even several of them, while others such as myself strictly enjoy the body scanning meditation.

The body scanning meditation focuses on scanning the body for areas of tension and to encourage the release of tension in that part of the body. Once the release occurs, the whole body can begin to relax even more. It usually starts by focusing on the toes and relaxing then moving up the legs, the torso the arms to the fingertips, and all the way through to the tip of the head.

My ideal meditation type is not for everyone. Playing around with the different types of meditations is the best way to find an ideal type of meditation that fits what the body needs. Unlike with most things, practice doesn't make perfect. Practicing the art of meditation just helps to refine the overall calm and zen that is felt.

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