The Process of Grieving | Diana Castillo Eddy, LMFT
In our lives, we all come to the point where we must face the loss of a loved one, whether the loved one is a family member or a friend. In these times of grief, it is best to remember that there is hope, and that there are stages of mourning such a loss. The speed with which we cope with loss is not important, and what is important is that we remember that each phase will pass with time.
The first stage of mourning a loss is the stage of denial and isolation, where many people experience a sense of disconnect from the loss. Many people feel sense of isolation from their usual social activities and connections. This phase can last from a few moments, to even several weeks or months.
Once we pass the stage of denial, many of us enter the phase of anger. This phase includes a sensation of anger towards the individual who inflicted the pain on our lives, even if the individual in question is the deceased in question. The anger can also be directed at the world in general or at reality itself for allowing the death to happen. Sometimes, we are even angry at ourselves for allowing the death to occur, even if there was absolutely nothing that we could do to prevent their passing.
While grieving, we turn to bargaining, where we may begin to make bargains with God Himself, trying to say that if we perform a certain way or change certain parts of our lives, we could possibly have the deceased person back in our lives, despite the subconscious knowledge that our bargains will have no effect on the reality.
When this reality sets in, a stage of depression may set in. In this stage, we may feel numb, or have feelings of anger and sadness. This is acceptable and normal in this situation, and is actually the last step to the final way in which we cope with our losses.
Acceptance is the final stage of coping with loss in our lives. When the anger and depression have faded from our conscious, we can grow to accept the reality of the loss for what it is, and continue to live our lives. This does not mean that the person is gone from our thoughts, or from our hearts. In the future, we can think back fondly on those we have lost, and remember the happier times that we had with them.
Photos and online memorials serve as gentle reminders of those loved ones we have lost in our time of grieving through all of the stages of coping with loss, and have been proven to be highly beneficial to remembering our loved ones with fondness.