The 5 Stages of Grief
We all have gone through something that tears you apart. Grief is subjective, meaning we all experience grieve in different ways. However, there are actually 5 stages of grief. Some people will move through each stage quickly or they may get stuck in one stage for years. You can even make it through all the stages then start all over again. Today I want to explain what those stages are so that you may understand that whatever or however you are feeling is normal.
Two months ago we lost my mother in law. I am one that will move through each stage of grief fairly quickly but then go back and start the process over again. That is my pattern. I do not choose to do it that way but subconsciously that is what I do. I have lost a lot of people in my life including both my parents and the process of moving through the stages of grief are always the same.
Denial. Denial is what you immediately feel when you get bad news such as the death of a parent. It is our bodies’ way of protecting us from that rush of overwhelming emotions. It buffers that immediate shock.
Anger. This is a hard one. Once the loss sinks in, you start to look at where to place the blame. Or you take your grief out on someone by lashing out at them for no reason. Some people will even question their faith during this stage of grief.
Bargaining. Bargaining is really a stage of grief that some people experiencing grief may have just prior to that actual thing that is causing them grief. For example; we knew my mother in law was going to pass away but I spend hours talking to God trying to make deals with him or bargaining. I would say, Dear God just give her more time and I promise we will do everything we can to make her comfortable. I will watch Hallmark all day. Bargaining also comes after the loss or whatever it is that is causing you grief.
Depression. I am not talking about clinical depression, though the symptoms almost mirror each other. During grief depression, you have little interest in doing anything, you will find yourself sitting in a room staring off into space, or in my case sitting through a green light because I never noticed it change colors. This is one of those stages that last a long time. You will think that you are doing better than something like a song or movie will come on and immediately you are thrown back into depression.
Acceptance. Acceptance is not really saying, “Hey I am ok with this.” Acceptance is more of knowing that this is the new normal. This is your life now and you are trying to learn how to move on and accept that whatever it was that happened, indeed did happen. And unfortunately, we are not controllers of the universe so we cannot change it.
5 Stages of Grief Conclusion
The 5 stages of grief; Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
Grief comes in many forms. A person can grieve not only for the loss of a loved one but for many other things. Divorce, a child leaving home once they are a young adult, loss of a job, or an illness. These are just a few things.
As I said before, we all move through these stages at a different pace but we do all indeed experience each stage. If you are grieving and feel like you are not moving forward or just feel lost than reach out to someone. You are not alone. You can talk to a family member, a friend, or even a counselor.
My Story of 5 stages of Grief
I lost my dad when I was 20. At the age of 20, I did not know a damn thing about the 5 stages of grief. I remember my mom trying to get me to read a book on grief because she was so worried about me. She even highlighted certain sections and dog-eared pages she wanted me to focus on. I never looked at that book until she passed away 14 years ago. My dear momma had highlighted that stages of grief and even wrote notes in the margins of the book to let me know what I was feeling was ok. So essentially her attempting to help me go through the stages of grief with my dad, is what really helped me go through the loss of her. Isn’t that something?
The denial phase for me was when we were in the hospital waiting room and they came to tell us my dad was dead. They said even though he was breathing there was no brain activity. I was 20. At the time I was not a nurse. I started yelling at the doctor, really made an ass of myself, and told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. He was breathing, he couldn’t be dead.
I quickly moved into the anger phase. I placed all my anger on the hospital staff and my step-mom. See my dad suffered a massive brain aneurysm. My step-mom said he had complained of a headache the day before. Being a nurse now, I know there would have not been anything they could have done about this huge aneurysm (it was huge) but I still blamed her.
Bargaining came next. I begged God to please just let them be wrong. I made promises to Him. I asked that when the doctors turn off the machines to place just let my daddy breathe on his own. I promised I would go see him every day.
The depression set in before we even had the funeral. I stopped working and did not return to work for over a month. I ignored my friends and my family. I remember staying in bed for what seems like an eternity. My mom would come over every day and try to get me to eat. I remember specifically her always coming into my room and placing a cold washcloth over my forehead. I don’t know the purpose of that but it was so comforting. I would day the depression phase lasted the longest for me.
The acceptance phase was tricky for me when it came to this specific loss. Acceptance is when we know what happened did indeed happen. This is the phase where you start to live again and learn how to function with the loss you just experienced.
Well, my dear friends, I did it the wrong way. I made up a story in my head that helped me ACCEPT that my dad was gone. I told myself he was really in the witness protection program. I know right? Sounds crazy. But for years that is what I believed. Unfortunately when I finally realized that he was indeed not being protected by some program and was actually deceased then I went through ALL these stages again.
I am older now and a nurse, therefore I have a different mind-set. I am not saying I do not grieve but I definitely grieve differently than when my father passed away 25 years ago. I also look for my loved ones in signs that God sends me. Like a beautiful sunrise. I also find encouragement through reading the bible. Here is one of my posts about verse mapping and how to find peace through His word.
My Stars In Heaven
My sweet Mother in Law
Forever Thankful for Her!
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