My last blog was about how to help your friends or loved ones through their time of grief, but what does grieving look like? Is there a specific way or time to grieve?
Through all the losses myself and others around me have experienced this past year, I have been looking into the stages of grief. No one grieves the same way and I don’t think it’s okay to expect someone to get over losing someone in a certain amount of time. Each person processes their emotions differently.
As I spent time with my friends that have lost loved ones, I noticed how they are dealing with it. They are some of the strongest persons I know. To see how they have gone though the painful process of planning a funeral in the middle of COVID and still have the ability to make others around them feel good is just amazing.
There are five stages of grief as I have found in doing some research and experiencing them myself. They are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.
Denial. I remember when my friend died. We were all by his bedside. We watched as he opened his eyes, half-smiled and then stopped breathing. We couldn’t believe it. One minute he was there and the next, gone. Gone. We had to make phone calls to emergency services, relatives and friends to notify them and I remember thinking, “this can’t be true. Is this really happening?” The body goes into some kind of shock when death happens. This is normal. It’s our bodies way of dealing with the overwhelming emotion.
Anger. After speaking with my friends during their bereavement, one statement repeated over and over again. How could he/she leave me? What am I doing to do now? It was anger mixed with feelings of fear and panic. Anger is the second stage and should be allowed to be expressed. Dealing with our anger is a part of helping us to heal.
Bargaining. Maybe I could have made this for them? Maybe I should have brought them to the hospital sooner? Maybe if I visited one last time, it would have helped them. Did I pray enough? This is the bargaining stage. We go back and forth reliving the past and wondering what we could have done more of to make them stay with us. This emotion can continue on with us but the important thing is to know that none of it is your fault. The family I was around cared for their loved ones with such tenderness and compassion, for countless hours of the day and I know there was nothing more that could physically be done; but it doesn’t help one from wondering.
Depression. I’m not an expert or a counsellor but I think this is the stage most suffer with the most. Especially after they have been with that person for many years. To suddenly have that part of your life changed is a devastating loss. You are left with a feeling of emptiness and sadness that can’t be quenched with words. I have seen friends go through this and the key is to be patient with them. Don’t expect them to bounce back overnight but they do turn around. Allow them this space but if the depression turns into thoughts of self-harm, then I believe immediate intervention should take place.
Acceptance. There is no time to reach to this point and it is also worth stating that the grieving process is not linear. We often go in and out of the stages during our grieving process. It’s not one and then the other. When we accept the loss of our loved one, it does not mean that we are okay with their passing. It simply means we understand that they will not be coming back to us and we have decided to move on with our lives as best as we can. Acceptance is different to all people. To me, it made me feel better to know he was happy. He was in Heaven where he wanted to be.