When someone you love or care deeply about dies it is very painful. You may experience all kinds of emotions and at times it may feel like the pain and sadness you’re experiencing will never go away, you may try to pick yourself up and return to ‘normal’ but nothing in your world feels ‘normal’ anymore. You can surround yourself with people but still feel alone and isolated.
It is said there are 7 stages of grief and you may drift back and forth between different stages at different times but it’s important to state that people grieve in different ways and what is right for you may not be for someone else.
- Shock and denial – When first hearing of a death many react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief and some may even deny the loss at some level to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once and can be almost shutting down emotionally and simply functioning at a basic level, this may last for weeks or longer.
- Pain and guilt – As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of pain which can to some manifest itself into physical pain. Although an extremely difficult period, professionals recommend that in order to move through the stages of grief it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs. You may spend a considerable amount of time analysing, thinking and re-thinking over things you did or didn’t do with your loved one. You may feel in a constant state of anxiety and unease during this phase.
- Anger and bargaining – Anxiety and unease sometimes gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. It is common to continually question ‘Why did this happen to me?’ during this grieving period.
- Depression, loneliness – Eventually you will reach the point where the true magnitude of your loss will hit you and the impact can knock you sideways and leave you with a real sense of despair and loneliness. This can be some considerable time after the death and is often when well-meaning friends will try to ‘snap you out of it’. Although well meaning, they must allow you to work your way through the grieving process in your own time and your own way.
- Upward turn – After time you will start to feel a little calmer and a little less anxious.
- Getting there – You are starting to feel more in control and able to face the world and may start to think on a more practical level about what you have to do in order to continue your life without your loved one.
- Acceptance and hope – You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come and even find joy again in the experience of living.