Grief and Bereavement
Stages of Grieving
Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified common stages of grieving. Understanding them can help the grieving process; so you know that what you are experiencing is normal when it feels abnormal.
- Denial. Grieving people describe this as a feeling of unreality. They might be performing a routine task but it doesn’t feel real.
- Anger. Anger might feel as though it is coming out of nowhere, or you might be understandably angry that you have lost someone.
- Sadness. This is what most people probably recognise as grief. Grieving people describe a feeling of emptiness or an aching chasm in their chests. It is like a hole has opened up that was once filled with the person they have lost.
- Acceptance. Life without the lost person, for most of the time, seems to be back to normal; as much as it can be given you have lost someone.
People don’t progress through these stages neatly or in order. You might go through all these phases in a day or in an hour; and you might go from Acceptance to Anger without seeming to realise why.
You might be very sad, so sad that you find it hard to get out of bed and to function; when others who are grieving seem to have skipped this stage all together.
Ways it Affects People
People grieve in different ways. Some people are very private about their grief and may not want others to see.
Grieving is hard work. Much of your resources and coping capacity will be taken up with the hard work of grieving. Things that once came easily to you might be hard. It might be difficult for you to concentrate: you might be unable to follow the plot of a movie. You might find that you get tired easily or no matter how much you sleep you are still tired.
Family conflict is common when a family is grieving. Everyone is doing the hard work of grieving and their capacity is also reduced. Their ability to deal with differences and usual strains in family relationships is diminished.
The amount of time that people grieve differs greatly. It might be weeks before you have an hour that feels normal to you, or you might have a few days of feeling as though you are functioning okay again and then something will trigger you to plummet back into despair and it might feel like you have lost that person all over again.
You might spend hours every day thinking about the person you lost and it might be some time before you go a whole day without thinking about that person. Anniversaries of important dates will be difficult for many years, birthdays, Christmases and family occasions will bring back memories of the loved one you have lost.
Although you might take two steps forward and one back, if you keep doing the hard work of grieving, you will recover and you will return to some kind of normality.
Your EAP counsellor can help you tremendously with grieving.