Grief: Understanding the Journey
Grief is a natural response to losing a loved one. It is a normal process that will eventually run its course that is not bound to any rules or timeframes.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to grieving – an individual will experience their loss differently from others which can be influenced by many factors. Grieving takes time and to do this in a healthy, constructive way is essential for ongoing life.
So, it is important that we understand the emotional journey of grieving. It isn’t easy for anyone, and we often cycle through different stages of grief before reaching acceptance.
“This can’t be true.” The initial feeling of disbelief and potentially denial. When we hear such news, it is common to want to avoid emotional turmoil and bigger things like funeral planning, as this just reinforces a painful reality.
“Why didn’t I…” At some point, you may feel swarmed with anger and guilt. You’re angry at yourself, the world and maybe even your loved one for leaving you. We tend to express anger as it is a less vulnerable emotion, but once it subsides we begin to feel guilt. Guilty that we could’ve done something to prevent the loss and consume ourselves with what if’s – leading to our next point.
“What if.” Here, we bargain and negotiate with the universe to try and make things better. “What if I stop drinking alcohol, will they come back?”. This stems from the guilt that we may feel, with the implication that if we had already completed our end of the bargain, our loved one would still be with us.
“I feel hopeless.” The biggest stage of the grieving journey is when our depression and sadness kicks in. We feel the true magnitude of the loss and maybe reminded of fond memories like birthdays, holidays and family events. It isn’t unusual to feel empty and hopeless or adopt negative behaviours in response to emotions.
After a rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts, we ultimately reach acceptance, gaining hope for a better and brighter future. However, acceptance is not a finish line that you simply cross – grieving is an ongoing cycle that we work through to rediscover the meaning of life.