Most know the stages of grief or have at least heard of them. If you have not, a psychiatrist named Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is known for coining the term and stages. These are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In a perfect world, we would move through these stages in an orderly and timely fashion and at some point, be “done” with grieving. This is just not the reality. If you have experienced grief and loss, others may have said something hurtful to you such as “you should be over that by now.” Or you may put unrealistic expectations on yourself with thoughts like “It has been X number of years, why am I still feeling this way?"
The truth of the matter is there is no right way to grieve. There is no straightforward process. There is not an end where you think to yourself, “Okay, I am done grieving.” You may completely miss stages, revisit stages, or experience a stage that is not listed or known. We are all unique individuals.
When we experience grief, it is normal to want to pull away from those that we love and isolate. We do not ever want to feel that kind of hurt again and if we are not close to anyone, it can’t hurt right? Wrong. We cannot stop loving, and it will still hurt. Isolating and “going alone” at this is the exact opposite of what we need. It truly takes a village. As hard as it can be, it is vital to find at least one person that you can share your grief with. This can be any trusted and supportive person. If you don’t have someone in your circle that can show up for you in that way, seek counseling, grief share groups, online groups or any other supportive atmosphere. There are evidenced based treatment modalities that can help you process and heal from grief.
What we do know about grief is that you will, over time, develop a new “norm.” What I mean is that you will ALWAYS miss and grieve your loved one. They will never be replaced or forgotten. But, given time, you will begin to adapt to this forever changed life. You will begin to feel happiness again. It may start little, and it may take time. But one day, you will be sitting outside and feel the warm sunshine on your face and feel a comfort and a happiness that you have not felt in a long time. This may be fleeting- that is normal. It will return and with each return, it will strengthen. There is hope.
“Even though the pain does not go away, somehow the soul will eventually make enough room so you can hold it all- the grief, the pain, the joy and the love.” -Susi Costello