When you lose someone you loved, a piece of yourself leaves too. Sadly, we’ll all encounter the feeling of grief at some point in our life. From a death of a loved one, relationship break up, or loss of a job. Grief is very personal, but how you choose to manage the feeling can be rewarding. After I lost my grandmother back in May, I thought my pain would never end. I felt a variety of emotions, from anger to hurt. Once time passed, I became more busy with schoolwork and social activities. The pit in my stomach was gone, but thinking about her didn’t go away. I wondered why I was taking so long to heal? I found myself bouncing back-in-forth through the different stages of grief. The process of grieving isn’t a linear transition. Grief is different for everyone, as well as the timeframe of healing. Once you acknowledge what stage you’re in, the road to recovery is in your hands!
Grief is an overwhelming feeling that takes time to comprehend. The first stage, denial, allows ourselves to create more time. We often pretend or reject the change happening. This defense mechanism minimizes the pain, while taking our minds off the situation. Whether it’s an end of a relationship or a loved one passing, reality doesn’t seem real. People in this stage often reflect on the loss, or wonder how they will move forward. An example of a job loss could be, “They’ll call me back tomorrow.”
During this stage, it’s important to understand your feelings are valid. Take your time moving through this stage, because baggage could carry on your shoulders if not healed properly. Reach out to support systems, or move at your own peace. Don’t rush the process, because the pain you’re feeling now will make you stronger in the end!
Anger allows us to mask our feelings, while adjusting to the new reality. The second stage of grieving leaves us angry at the world and full of resentment. Not everyone will experience this stage, but it tends to come quickly. Understand your anger will be directed at multiple things, including what you’re grieving. A break up could sound like, “I hate him! He will miss me if he leaves!”
Anger can be difficult to manage, but hurting others in the process of grieving doesn’t help anyone. Your anger will be aimed in all different directions, even towards your ex boyfriend from 5 years ago. After my grandmother passed, I felt very isolated during this stage. Reach out for reassurance and comfort from others. Try putting your pride aside, and rely on others to take care of you.
In the bargaining stage, we often place more baggage on our shoulders. Many will replay scenarios in their head, and try to figure out where they went wrong. Regret may sink in, wondering how things could have been different. In this stage, we are trying to gain control of a situation that is out of our hands. Looking back on how you could have behaved differently will only lead to more emotional pain. Someone experiencing the death of a loved one could say, “If only I visited more while she was alive.”
This stage can take a toll on your mental wellbeing, so it’s important to not beat yourself up. Instead of asking “why didn’t I spend more time with her,” say “I’m thankful for all the time I got to spend with her.” Understanding this situation is out of your control is the first step to making it past this stage. Let your mind ease and surround yourself with positive thoughts.
Once we make it through the stages above, our reality starts sinking in. The depression stage can be a long, emotional journey. We deeply feel the loss at hand. People in this stage might start becoming less sociable or unmotivated with everyday life. This is the normal process, so understand this feeling won’t last forever. Someone experiencing a job loss could say, “Should I even find another place to work?”
Don’t feel bad taking time to process your thoughts in this stage! It’s important to take those mental health days. Go for a walk, put on your favorite movie, call a friend, do whatever makes you happy. Make time for your needs!
Once you’ve reached acceptance, you understand how life needs to look now. This doesn’t mean we have moved on, but have come to terms with what has happened. The sadness won’t go away, but hopefully you’re looking at life in a different way. After my grandmother passed, I had a whole different perspective on life. The major change should be positively affecting you, rather than negatively. Start creating healthier habits and paving the way for your life path!
Written by: Chloe West