Experiencing Grief And Understanding The Five Stages of Grief
Grief is a sorrow experienced by someone who has lost something significant in their life.
It is a multidimensional emotion encountered when we suffer a major loss such as the death of a loved one, separation or divorce, end of a relationship or any form of chronic physical illness leading to “losing” our old healthy self. Grief can be the result of physical loss where a person actually loses someone or something or due to abstract loss related to aspects of someone’s personal life such as break up or loss of a job or simply put an old self.
Why do people grieve?
Grief is a person’s natural response to loss. It can be in various forms ranging from deep sadness to anger. Other emotions felt during the grieving process are guilt, regret or helplessness. Mainly grief is associated with loss of relationship or death of a loved one however one can experience grief due to reasons such as follows:
Losing an opportunity
Missing one’s younger or old self
Displacement due to disaster
Loss of identity
Going bankrupt/ financial breakdown
Rejection or failure
Two types of grieving processes are explored by psychologists. The dual process model of grief –
Instrumental grieving which focuses on minimizing or controlling the expression of one’s emotion related to loss. This type of grieving is observed when the person has to perform problem-solving tasks right after the loss. Example of this process can be seen in sons at the time of death of parent especially the father. Due to gender roles and the stereotype of men being stronger, such situation requires them to take charge of the situation, do the needful without actually expressing their loss and grief through crying or helplessness.
Intuitive type which involved the expression of emotional experiences of grief and loss. People share their true feelings, express emotions such as anger or sadness through crying or withdrawing from interactions. People reflect upon the lost relationships in this style. However, the grieving style can vary from person to person depending upon their coping mechanisms.
What are the 5 stages of grief?
Based upon the emotions and behavior of people during the grief process psychologists have identified various stages of griefthrough which an individual goes through when any significant loss occurs to him followed by grief.
Five stages of grief given by Klisabeth Kubler– Ross include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. This model has a positive ending, therefore, it can help us to understand how people learn to live with their loss.
Let us briefly understand these 5 stages of grief model.
DENIAL: The first stage of denial is a kind of defense to buffer against the loss. Sudden loss or trauma can make the person go numb. The shock of loss even can fatal; denial helps one to make survival possible. In denial, the person does not accept that such loss has occurred to him or even makes the person overwhelmed. This stage gives the person time to allocate resources to be used in coping. As this stage moves towards the end, it makes the person stronger to get hold of reality.
ANGER:Denial is followed by a stage of anger. Anger has negative connotations attached to it but in stages of grief, anger serves a useful purpose. It is an important process for healing. Anger can be aimed towards anyone the person thinks might share responsibility for the loss such as the doctor in case the loved one is lost post a surgery.
After losing someone or facing event such as divorce or break up the question that arises is ‘Why did it happen to me?’ or ‘Did I deserve this?’ Anger is the representation of pain it links us with the loss. It signifies how much the thing or person was important to us.
BARGAINING: After the anger stage has passed the person tries to restore the loss. This stage is called bargaining. Here the individual tries to think of deals to repay the loss. In the case of divorce, a person on the bargaining stage would think ‘What if I could have tried more to improve the marriage?’
A mother who lost her son in a road accident would bargain ‘if only I didn’t let him go out that day, he would have been with us.’ Some people even bargain with God like ‘Please God save my mother, I will always obey her.’ Some people in grief also try to bargain for the pain they undergo they keep on sticking to the past when things were good and there was no loss and pain.
DEPRESSION:When people see that they have tried bargaining they restore their attention to the present. Sense of loss accompanied with grief reaches deep inside us. We feel hopeless, helplessness and having no control over things. This is a phase of depression stage. Grief and depression, often social withdrawal, loss of appetite and disturbed sleep or sleeplessness is seen in this period. In many cases, a person is stuck on this stage and this often leads to clinical depression in people.
ACCEPTANCE: After a phase of depression there comes a stage where the individual accepts the reality about the loss that has occurred to them. One can never be okay with the loss but can get over grief period with the acceptance of the reality that loss has occurred and it cannot be undone. This stage includes making new adjustments, inter-dependencies, connections leading to growth forwards better.
Many psychologists say that there are two more stages in the grief cycle apart from the five stages of grief. According to them, there are 7 stages of grief. There is another stage included in the second position after denial and shock. This stage is PAIN AND GUILT. In this stage, as denial wears off, there is extreme pain that is expressed freely. There are also feelings of guilt associated with this stage.
Other stages include in the 7 stages of grief are THE UPWARD TURN and RECONSTRUCTION STAGE. In the upward turn, people start to make adjustment in their lives so that they can bring calm in themselves after the loss. In this stage, the depression starts lifting up followed by a stage of working through or simply the reconstruction. In the reconstruction stage, we process things in a solution-oriented manner. We start becoming realistic and practical about life.
When the stages of grief are not passed by a person successfully, he or she may be stuck in the complicated grief and might be referred for professional help. Counselors or therapist provide grief counseling in such cases. You can visit a professional at the mental health clinic or seek online counselling. Therapists online can be as effective as other forms of grief counseling as they provide with assignments, self-record sheets, CBT homework similar to any other cognitive behavioral therapy model.
Typical grief counseling focuses on the emotions experienced by the person about the loss, accepting the loss, and helping the client make adjustments to reorient themselves with the loss. It tries to teach the client effective coping skills, which may include resuming daily routine, consultation with the physician for sleep and appetite issues. For the motivation and change of thoughts, cognitive behavioral therapy techniques are incorporated too.
Many grief counseling services are provided by online psychologists and therapists who use a combination of therapy approaches to understanding the stages of grief and how online counseling can help people come out of loss and make their life more fulfilling.
Complicated grief can often interfere with a person’s life, their daily functioning, social relationships as well as physical health. You can reach out for counseling or therapy if your symptoms include intense sadness and emotional pain, feelings of emptiness and hopelessness, constant recurrent thoughts about the loss, wanting to reunite with the one you lost a reduced sense of identity, social withdrawal.
Therapy can be very useful in overcoming complicated grief. The most psychologist uses the cognitive behavioral therapy approach to grief counseling. If you or anyone close to you is experiencing difficulty in coping with any kind of loss and is in a period of deep grief consider taking grief counseling. You can reach out to us for online counseling and talk to online psychologist and take therapy. You can also check out how therapy can help you move out of the stages of grief. Reach out at +919266626435.
Seeking help is a sign of courage. Don't let self-limiting beliefs hold you back from a life you deserve. Avail online therapy to become happier and better. Learn how
Disclaimer: Please note that we are not a crisis intervention helpline. Should you have severe symptoms or have thought about harming yourself, please seek immediate medical help or call suicide prevention helplines such as
Aasra 24x7 Helpline: 91-22-27546669