It is never easy to lose someone, especially when it is a loved one. While I have dealt with my fair share of loss recently, I am by no means an expert on dealing with grief. The following is what has helped me and I hope that it will help you, if you are in the same position.
There are said to be five stages of grief. While everyone deals with each of these stages differently, we all experience them in some shape and form.
Stage 1: Denial
At the first intake of the news, your body deflects the information and goes into shock mode. You can’t believe this happened. You plan out your next rational steps. Your mind starts making a checklist. You are not dealing with the information that you have just learned, but this is good. Your body has this stage for a reason; you need to be able to lay out a plan of attack before you can deal with the emotions that are about to come knocking on the door. Let yourself take the time you need to process, but make sure that when you are ready that you start asking questions. These questions will help you start the healing process.
Stage 2: Anger
Anger is a tricky stage to deal with, because it is typically the emotion in the stages of grief that we experience most on a day-to-day basis. But this can be a good thing, you know how to handle and control it. The anger you get depends on the loss you are experiencing: Why didn’t they fight the cancer harder? Why did they choose to take their own life? Your anger may not even be at the person who died, it could be at others around you: Why aren’t they here to help me through this process? Why didn’t they attend the funeral? Why aren’t they letting me help them cope? No matter whom your anger is toward, know that you do not know everyone’s situation or why they did or did not do something. Besides you cannot rewrite the past. Know that your anger is normal; use this to continue the healing process.
Stage 3: Bargaining
This is the stage where you try to strike a deal with Father Time saying “if only” or “what if” statement. As I said before, you can not rewrite the past no matter how much you plead or bargain. History is history and therefore, it cannot be undone. Make sure that you do not find fault within yourself. You are not to blame for your loved one passing. Also, know that if they truly love you then they would want you to know that, while they would have liked to spend more time with you, they do not want you to have your mind spinning in circles thinking of everything that could have happened differently: If only, they found the tumor sooner. If only, I talked to him more. While this is a normal stage of the grieving process, try not to beat yourself up thinking about how to rewrite a past that did not come with a rewind button.
Stage 4: Depression
This is the stage where the most time is spent. You have just lost a loved one, it is normal to be depressed. Personally, I am not normally a crier. I don’t cry during movies or when I read a sad story, but I cry when I am grieving. It is natural. Think of your loved ones, look through old pictures, wear their old sweatshirts, listen to sad songs, and eat your feelings in chocolate cupcakes. While it may not feel like it now, one day you will start to feel again.
Stage 5: Acceptance
This is the ultimate end result of grief. Please note that you will never be “okay” with the loss. You are not expected to feel okay that a significant person in your life is missing. I want you to celebrate their life and the time and love you shared with them. Think of them when that movie they loved comes on and laugh at what they would have said during that scene in their favorite tv show. Find comfort that they are no longer suffering or in pain, if they were sick. Most importantly know that they would have wanted you to continue to live your life. Remember them in your daily routine, cherish the time you shared, embrace the life that you still have to live, and continue to pursue love, because they want you to be happy and to continue to live your life.
I am sorry for your loss. I hope the above helps you in your grieving process. To quote Lee Ann Womack, “Livin’ might mean takin’ chances but they’re worth takin’, Lovin’ might be a mistake but it’s worth makin’, Don’t let some hell bent heart leave you bitter, When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider, Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance, And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance!”