Grief and Loss
Grief is a normal and natural feeling that most of us experience after we lose someone, or something, that is important to us. It often comes with intense feelings of sadness, anger, remorse, disbelief, panic, shock, relief or even numbness. Grief is most commonly associated with the loss of a loved one, but we can also experience it following other types of loss, such as: an important relationship, a valued possession, a place of residence, a pregnancy, or anything that has meaning to us. While everybody experiences grief differently, many of us progress through five stages. These are:
- Denial – In the first stage of grief we deny the reality of our loss. We block out our feelings to protect ourselves from the immediate shock. This is a temporary response and helps us to pace our grief in a way that enables us to cope. This stage is often accompanied by an absence of feeling, or numbness.
- Anger – The pain of our loss emerges from the numbness of denial. But sometimes it can be too overwhelming for us and may be redirected and expressed as anger. We may lash out at loved ones, strangers or objects and lay blame for our loss in unwarranted places.
- Bargaining – In the bargaining stage, we ask ourselves repeated ‘what if?’ questions. We would make any agreement that would have our loved one returned to us. Bargaining is our attempt to regain control and return to how our life was before our loss.
- Depression – This stage often involves a longer period of sadness and reflection, during which the magnitude of our loss begins to sink in. We may isolate ourselves from others and focus on memories from the past. Consideration and sadness over the practical implications of being without our loved one is common during this stage.
- Acceptance – This stage is about accepting the reality of life without our loved one. We have begun to recognise that our life has changed and are learning how to continue functioning in a world that doesn’t contain our loved one.
Coping with Grief
Grief is a natural healing process which occurs over time. There are no rules on how to do it properly, this is different for everyone. However acknowledging grief and accepting it as a normal and healthy human response is often an important step in the process. It can be very important to share these thoughts and feelings with the people you trust. And remember, what you are going through is a painful, but important part of your healing.
Our sensitive and caring psychologists have helped many people to negotiate the painful process of grief and we are confident that we can help you too.
If you are grieving a loss and finding it hard to cope, call us at TG Psychology today on Ph 02 8089 2665.