The seven stages of grief
Stage 1: Shock and denial:An emotional paralysis on receiving the bad news, while avoiding the truth and instead seeking out a false alternate, preferred reality.
Stage 2: Pain and guilt:The intense negative feelings that are felt once the shock wears off.
Stage 3:Anger and bargaining: Emotions previously under control boil over, in part due to lack of control, which can result in a desperate plea for a resolution, even reversal, to the bad news.
Stage 4: Depression, reflection and loneliness: Realising the inevitable truth of the bad news and thus feeling hopeless.
Stage 5: The upward turn: Symptoms of depression begin to lift as life starts to return to normality.
Stage 6: Reconstruction:Trying to seek out realistic solutions to the bad news.
Stage 7: Acceptance and hope: Emotionally accepting the bad news and finally moving forward with a plan.
When it comes to bereavement, the first thing I discuss with my clients are these stages of grief. I use it a lot to help explain the feelings we get when met with loss and bereavement. I use it a lot because it makes so much sense and it helps my clients to firstly acknowledge what they are feeling and secondly show them they are not alone. If you’re grieving, there is a process to what you’re going through and it is totally normal to feel like you are on a complete roller coaster of emotions. It is normal to feel nothing and then everything. It is normal to feel like you are broken and on the floor, and the next day go to work feeling like nothing has happened. Bereavement and loss are a real human experiences – by that I mean it really gets you in touch with yourself. It is a powerful, messy, deep, beautiful, strange and confusing process, but no matter what stage you are at, you will come out the other end and be stronger for it. I speak from experience.
The seven stages start with shock and denial. You will probably react to learning of a loss with numbed disbelief. You will say things like, “I literally can’t believe this is happening” or “How is this even happening?” You could also be in shock, and at times like this it is very important to make sure you are not drinking to cope – sometimes even driving a car can be a security risk. This first stage is something not to be taken lightly.
The second is pain and guilt, the third is anger and bargaining, the fourth is depression reflection and loneliness. These first four stages are the ones that hurt the most and the ones where I would urge anyone to get a therapist or a coach. It is totally OK to not do this on your own. The process can be helped greatly by talking about it.
The fifth stage is the upward turn, the sixth is reconstruction and working through and the final seventh is acceptance and hope.
One of my tips on how to actually cope with grief and loss is to express yourself. Talking is often a good way to soothe painful emotions and knowing you are not alone is key to moving through the process with more ease than if you keep it all inside and suffer in silence. No one has to suffer alone. It is also really important to feel your feelings. Allow yourself to feel sad, hurt, shocked, whatever – it’s a healthy part of the grieving process.
It is important to eat healthily avoid things that “numb” the pain, such as alcohol,drugs, sex or whatever it might be. When we numb or run away from negative feelings, they only get buried and either come out later in horrible ways or simply come back stronger. Also, it is important to try to keep your routine up: do exercise, go to work, talk to people and try to stick to some sort of schedule. If you can’t, that’s all right too. Don’t do anything that doesn’t sit right with you, and if you literally can’t keep your schedule for a little while, just remember that nothing is so bad it lasts forever and you will get through.
Please reach out for support should you need to talk, please contact me through my website.