This article will share with you the stages of grief and advice on how to help a person experiencing grief and loss. When a person experiences a loss of any kind it can be very difficult. Grief is generally associated with the loss of a person. It is important to know that people can experience grief for many reasons.
I recently loss one of my best friends my dog Soleil. I had her from my 1st year of grad school all the way up onto this year. She was a vibrant loving spirit that brought so much joy to my life. Although she was a pet her loss was still very real for me. Saying goodbye to Soleil was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I still miss her greeting me at the door and her barking with exciting before we would go for a ride. I know in time things will get better. I still miss her very much every day.
People may grieve the loss of family, friend, pet, a relationship, a job, friendship and much more. While others may grieve the loss of an experience or opportunity. Things such as a change in the family or employment can also be reasons a person experiences grief. It is important to note there is no perfect timing nor a perfect order of how a person will process the stages of grief. Read below to find out how to identify the stages of grief. Discover tips to help someone begin taking steps to cope with grief and loss.
Just like the bold word states, this stage is where people experience a feeling of shock. When there is an unexpected loss this can occur. Even if a person is expecting a loss sometimes it can still be very unsettling when it actually happens. Since there is no full way to prepare for loss this can potentially be very difficult for individuals to process.
When something as serious as a loss happens denial is another stage of grief and loss. This is where a sense of disbelief that the loss has even occurred happens. Sometimes individuals will avoid contact with things that make them have to face the reality. Others sidestep situations and people that will make the difficult situation more real. It may be hard to understand but denial is a coping mechanism people use to try and deal with the difficulty.
A lot of “if I only” or “what if” thoughts come to mind in this stage known as bargaining. This stage can happen before the loss has occurred. A lot of “I wish I had” thoughts also come to mind. In this time people may try to make a deal with their higher power. It is common in this stage of grief and loss to feel helpless. Many times throughout the process people want to make sense of it all.
Sadness, frequent crying, and dissatisfaction with activities that once caused joy are some symptoms of depression. Depression related to grief presents with feelings of loneliness in addition to the other matters mentioned above. Sometimes people isolate themselves from others and activities. Individuals describe grief at this time as a feeling of being numb, not really feeling anything anymore. Some may feel regret or guilty over past issues involving the loss. Feelings of emptiness and despair may also be common during this time.
Individuals can become angry during times of grief and loss. In some instances people that were typically calm become irritable. During the anger stage, some may become quick to anger. It is fair to note that the person may not necessarily be mad at you. One must recognize the person is possible to be hurt and experiences many other emotions during this time. This person is quite possibly lost and trying to process things. The person may try to make sense of the situation.
This is the last stage in which a person processes grief and loss. It sometimes takes a while to get to this stage. Accepting the fact the loss has occurred can be very difficult. There is no perfect timing about when a person reaches this stage. Acceptance does not mean that the person is one hundred percent okay with the situation. More so it means that the person has come to terms with the way things are.
Things to help support a person:
Give the person time to process their emotions
Be a presence not a pester /sit silently with the person
Allow the person to feel their emotions
Do not say “I understand what you’re going through” although you may have experienced a loss this experience is unique and personal for each person
Accept that they may not be moving as quickly as you would like through the stages of grief
Give them time -Remember there is no perfect time in which a person reaches the acceptance stage
Social support (friends, family, social media, group counseling and church etc.)
Volunteering -helping others
Prayer and meditation
Talking about the loss