The Grieving Process
When we experience a major loss, grief is the normal and natural way our mind and body react. Everyone goes through the grieving process differently, and at the same time there are common patterns people tend to share.
For example, someone experiencing grief usually moves through a series of emotional and grief stages, such as shock, numbness, guilt, anger and denial. And physical responses are typical also. They can include: sleeplessness, inability to eat or concentrate, lack of energy, and lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed.
Time always plays an important role in the grief stages. As the days, weeks and months go by, the person who is experiencing loss moves through the grief stages of emotional and physical reactions that normally lead toward acceptance, healing and getting on with life as fully as possible.
Sometimes a person can become overwhelmed or bogged down in the grieving process. Serious losses are never easy to deal with, but someone who is having trouble beginning to actively re-engage in life after a few months should consider getting professional help. For example, if continual depression or physical symptoms such as loss of appetite, inability to sleep, or chronic lack of energy persists, it is probably time to see a doctor about your grief stages.
Six Stages of Grief Along your Journey
Dr. Stephen Joseph identifies what he calls six stages of grief to facilitate posttraumatic growth. He reminds readers too that "posttraumatic growth does not imply the absence of emotional distress and difficulties in living. It does imply that it is possible through the struggle to come out on the other side, stronger and more philosophical about life."
Before identifying these six stages of grief, Dr. Joseph reminds his readers of three very important things:
You are not on your own
Trauma is a normal and natural process
Growth is a journey
He also provides a fundamental rule: don't do anything you might not be able to handle now. "If you experience intense emotions, become physically upset, or begin to panic...stop." He gently reminds readers that "having a sense of personal control over your recovery is important. There might be some things you do not feel ready to handle now, but in time, as you discover new strength and develop new coping skills, this will likely change."
Stage 1: Taking Stock
Are you physically well? Are you getting enough sleep and eating the right foods for optimum health? Have you received the kind of medical, legal, or psychological help you need? What is your current condition: physically, spiritually, and emotionally?
Stage 2: Harvesting Hope
People traumatized by loss often feel hopeless. It's hard to get up in the mourning and thinking about the future sparks pessimism and negativity. Find inspiration in the stories of personal growth written by others; set goals and practice hope as you set out to achieve them.
Stage 3: Re-Authoring
Learn to tell your story differently. Take the victim mentality out of the story of loss you tell yourself and others and replace it with the word survivor to return to a sense of control over your life.
Stage 4: Identifying Change
Keeping a daily diary can help you to see the small changes within more easily. You can also track those moments when you feel at your best and identify the conditions that brought them about. Identify and nurture the positive changes in your life throughout your bereavement journey.
Stage 5: Valuing Change
Review these changes, identifying the ones that you'd like to continue to nurture. Personal transformation requires it. Growth is encouraged when we take time to think about what we have gained from loved ones and when we find a way to use what we have learned to give to others.
Stage 6: Expressing Change in Action
Express your growth in new behaviors or, more simply, put your growth into action. When you think in terms of concrete actions, it helps make the growth experienced within your bereavement real to you.
"By focusing on these six stages of grief," writes Dr. Joseph, "you will find that your posttraumatic growth is beginning to take root."
Let Us Help you Through the Grief Stages
There has been an ever-increasing desire to expand traditional roles beyond "at-need" and "pre-need" services into "after-need" or post funeral services for the bereaved. Browns Memorial Funeral Home provides bereavement services for the families we serve. For more information about our grief counselling services, please call us at COMPANY_PHONE.
Fleming, Stephen. The Changing Face of Grief: From 'Going On to 'On-Going''
Joseph, Stephen. What Doesn't Kill Us: the New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth