In Caregiver Core Training we had to learn about the Five Stages of Grief. It is an important training because of the trauma the children often must face. We went in-depth about each stage. A few days later a friend and I continued that conversation based off of recent events.
It goes without saying that grief is a pretty hard thing to overcome. Most can attest, myself included. I’ve had to learn, through the first four stages – over and over and over – again how to actually reach the acceptance stage. And let me tell you, it’s a dark road without help.
The Five Stages of Grief are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
Denial – This is the first reaction to loss. You get the thoughts of This didn’t happen or This isn’t happening. You deny the fact that the loss you are facing is a part of your reality. Loss can be overwhelming so the denial stage is a natural reaction of you rationalizing your loss. It is a way for us to block out the pain, while our body is still in shock. A way for us to hide from the feelings that loss brings, the emotions that come crashing down. Sometimes this will cause isolation as you hideout from the world.
Anger – This stage really doesn’t need much of an explanation. You’re angry for your loss. You are angry for being angry. You are angry because you just don’t understand what is going on and why things happen the way they do. Sometimes this anger will be destroying every conceivable memory of the loss. Sometimes the anger will be toward the loss. Sometimes the anger will be afflicted towards your loved ones experiencing the same loss. We are just not ready to face the situation.
Bargaining – When you experience a loss often times your world seems to be out of control. You don’t know what is right, left, up or down.The foundation you stand on is unsteady. You want to find common ground again, something that is controllable. This is where bargaining comes in. We try to make deals with ourselves, doctors, others, God. We try to find a way to turn back the clock. To regain what we’ve lost. Like denial, this is our way of not dealing with the loss.
Depression – Depression comes in all shapes and forms. When you lose someone the deep sense of loss can be heartbreaking. At this stage you can really feel like your foundation has been shattered. It isn’t necessarily about being dark and gloomy. Sometimes the depression is just figuring out where you go from here. Why about arrangements that need to be made? What is life going to be like without your loved one?
Acceptance – The final stage. Acceptance is gaining the understanding that you can let someone go and move on without forgetting them. This is the time where you realize that life can go on without them, even if you don’t know how. The time where you can take a deep breath without the stabbing pain of that action. Acceptance is the stage where you forgive yourself for whatever you thought you did wrong and forgive the loss as well.
Now that I explained the Five Stages of Grief, let me say this: with every loss – no matter how deep or shallow – will you hit all stages. What I do know is whether you hit all five, or just three, or you go through all the stages hundreds of times there is always HOPE.
Hold On, Pain Ends
Some will laugh at this. Some will be gracious and say I know even if they don’t believe it. But it’s true. Loss isn’t a fun thing to have to deal with. My most recent loss made me feel hopeless, like I did something wrong. I remember hearing the words and telling myself No, no no, this can’t be. Everything was fine. Because they were. Life often does that though, throws you a curveball when all of the cosmos seem to finally align. In the midst of it, the pain is unbearable. In the midst of it life seems like it unraveling and the world is crumbling around you.
But, it isn’t.
I know, it’s hard to see that. But, I promise you, lovelies, if you hold on the pain ends. It isn’t about pretending that the loss isn’t real. It’s not fair to ask you to not be angry about the loss. It isn’t hard to wonder what life would be like had the loss not happened. It is even okay to be depressed about the loss. But, don’t give up. Don’t give in. It isn’t okay to let go of you. I was told the other night that the universe falls in love with a stubborn heart. And it does. I believe that magic happens when you don’t give up. When you hold on to even the slightest of ropes every tends to fall into place because you’re too stubborn for it not to.
I’ve had enough loss in my life to know that if I can just hold on but for a moment – even when I don’t want to – the journey brings me full circle in healing and love. So, my loves, that is what I hope for you. Sometimes the grief process is unbearable. Sometimes the stages may or may not present itself. But, hope always does. And the pain does end, if you let it. Whatever loss you have felt, may you find peace, love and hope.
Just remember, sometimes when you are in a dark place and you think you’ve been buried, know that you have actually been planted. xoxo