People who are grieving the loss of a loved one face many emotions as they struggle to cope. It is possible to get through the pain of such a loss, but researchers who have examined the grieving process believe there are five definable stages of grieving that most people go through that make the process easier to come to grips with, if not wholly acceptable. Those stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
By denying the loss that has occurred, we attempt to shield ourselves from the rawness of emotion. During this stage, many people will feel as if their life makes no sense. They may wonder how they can go on without that special person in their life. Denial can help you deal with the death of a loved one in small pieces, accepting a little bit more of reality each day.
Anger is the next logical stage after denial — the feelings of the essential unfairness of the world and the questioning of why one had to be singled out for this pain. Some people project their anger toward a particular person, organization or circumstance. This serves to create a structure and enable an outlet for releasing a well of built-up emotion. Anger can actually be a positive source of energy and an anchor during this time.
Many people try to rationalize their loss and attempt to “bargain” with a supreme being or other entity by offering to “reform themselves” or make up for past ill-behavior in exchange for the reincarnation of their loved one. Or, perhaps they’re seeking an absolution from the guilt that they didn’t resolve all of their emotional issues with that person before they died. They start sentences with phrases like “if only…” and “what if…” It’s a way of blaming oneself and then trying to escape the blame in order to run away from the pain one feels from their loss.
This is the stage of grief most people are familiar with because it’s so deep and usually visible. Many people think it’s the only stage of grief because of its familiarity. A person who is depressed after a loss needs to understand that depression is a natural part of the grieving process. It can often feel as if it will last forever. They should understand that what they’re feeling is not a symptom of mental illness — their feelings are to be expected in these circumstances, and in fact, it’s a necessary part of the healing process.
Acceptance doesn’t relate to the acceptance of the loss in question but rather to the acceptance of the reality of the situation — that the situation will not be changing and has no prospect of changing in the future. Arranging funeral services at this time for the loss of a loved one can be a part of this stage. Or, this stage may not be reached until long after a funeral takes place. It is only when a loss is accepted that one can come to grips with living in a new reality rather than clinging to the old one.
If you have recently experienced the loss of a loved on and are not sure where to turn for help, just know that Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation is here for you. We can help you plan a funeral or memorial service as well as provide grief counseling.