Grief is a normal response to the loss of something or someone you deeply loved and cared about. Although many people associate grief with being just an emotional reaction to loss, grief can also impact an individual socially, physically, culturally, as well as the way they behave. Here we will consider what grief truly is, the different ways it can impact a person's life, as well as it's different stages.
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
Grief is part of life. Whether you’re grieving the loss of a loved one or the end of a relationship, mourning is natural. Grief isn’t a linear process, and it takes time to say goodbye. The grieving process that a person goes through can last for an extended period, but we hope that what's been mentioned above will helpful for anyone experiencing grief.
Sometimes we’re at a loss as to how to stop grieving. You don’t have to put a time limit on the grieving process, or how you grieve. But, it can help to talk about grieving in counseling. You may have trouble understanding how you feel, and speaking to a therapist will help you understand your complicated emotions during the 7 stages of grief so you can start the healing process after grief and loss. In the DSM-5, or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, prolonged grief disorder is often associated with intense sadness after a death that lasts for a very long time, as much as multiple years. Learning about the benefits of grief counseling can help you understand some resources you have during this hard time.
Grief is painful. Coping with the loss of someone who you loved hurts. We all lose people, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a partner, sibling, friend, or co-worker, it’s hard to lose someone who was a big part of your life. The loss comes in many forms, whether it’s someone dying, the end of a romantic relationship or the loss of a friendship. Some people might grieve losing their job. When you lose something, and you’re grieving, you might not be able to process that they’re gone at first. Shock is a normal part of grieving, and is a normal grief reaction. Once you face the fact that the person is gone from your life, you will experience sadness, which could lead to depression. With time, you’ll feel less sadness, but it’s crucial to let yourself go through the grieving process. Treasure the time you had with the person you lost, and those memories will live on long after the stages of grief are gone. All the stages of grief are widely recognized, though you may move through them in your own order.
No one can tell you how to cope with a loss. You’re allowed to grieve in your own way. Each one of us reacts differently to death or losing something they love. It’s not easy to lose someone you care deeply about, and you’re allowed to process your grief in whatever way helps you get through it. There’s no fast-forward button through a grieving period, and the most effective healing tool is time. People need to allow themselves the opportunity to feel their emotions and release them. The more the person understands their feelings, the better chance that they process their loss in a healthy manner. It’s important to be able to talk through your feelings of grief with your friends and loved ones, and speaking to a licensed therapist or counselor can help that process.
Some of the questions people commonly ask about grief include:
What are the 7 emotional stages of trauma?
How long does it take to go through the 7 stages of grief?
What is testing in the 7 stages of grief?
Does everyone experience the 7 stages of grief?
Which stage of grief is the hardest? What are the 12 steps of mourning?
What are the 7 stages of life?
How do you deal with regret after death?
How does grief affect the body?
How long do stages of grief last?
How long does shock last during grief?
You may have heard that there are stages of grief, and while that’s true, it’s not the entire story. Dr. Kübler-Ross is a specialist on grieving. She is a Swiss psychologist who studied the grieving process and wrote specifically about the stages of death: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Dr. Kübler-Ross researched all the emotions people felt when they learned they were dying, and these became known as the 7 stages of grief. She interviewed terminally ill individuals and talked about how a person feels when they discover they are imminently approaching death. Her writing focused not on grieving the loss of someone in your life, but rather how people who were in the end stages of their lives felt. Her stages of grief model, however, is still often applied to people who have lost loved ones or family members.
Many people believe that the 7 stages of grief refer to a person coping with a loss of someone who died, but that wasn’t the intent of Dr. Kübler-Ross’ research. People who are approaching the end of their lives go through the following stages; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Over time, psychologists began to recognize that the stages of grief that Dr. Kübler-Ross uncovered also applied to how we feel when someone we love dies. People used these seven stages to cope with the loss of their loved ones, and it helped them get through an extraordinarily difficult time.
Grief Isn’t Linear
Even though there are stages of mourning, grief stages don’t follow a pattern, and it isn’t linear. You may go through periods of sadness and then feel angry. You might think you’ve accepted the fact that someone you love isn’t here anymore, and then you’re reminded of that person when you see an item at a store they might like. You might go through a period where you don’t want to admit that the person is gone from your life, and look at old pictures. There’s nothing wrong with reminiscing over the time you spent with your loved one. That might be a way to help you get through the grieving process. In the stages of grief, you might feel depression, acceptance, and the bargaining stage. Any bereaved person will experience a range of complicated grief emotions. There’s no right way to say goodbye to someone you lost, and it’s healthy to feel your emotions to get through the pain of losing someone, the 7 stages of grief, and begin the healing process.
Grief is an incredibly complex emotion. You may feel at peace one day and have trouble getting out of bed the next morning, or even feel physical symptoms of the 7 stages of grief. It’s difficult to process sadness and loss, and you can get through these painful moments with the right support network, and using mental health resources. When you’re in the midst of grieving, and you’re having trouble coping with your feelings around the 7 stages of grief, that’s understandable. You can reach out for help to a mental health professional who can guide you through the grieving process and support you in developing healthy coping strategies. If you would like to speak to one of the licensed BetterHelp therapists about your grief process, be sure to reach out to us.