Time after time, we hear those who are grieving say, “I should be over this by now.” While there is no time limit on grief, this is a common feeling to have. Loss and grief are two of the most challenging things to deal with in life, especially during the holiday season. For some of us, the holidays might be a reminder of traditions, gifts, or recipes that we shared with our loved ones. For others, this might be the first holiday without them, and the absence of those traditions can be overwhelming.
Stages of Grief
Understanding what you are experiencing can be helpful as you navigate your emotions. While everyone’s experiences are different, there are models that define the general pathway of grief. The Kübler-Ross model identifies five stages of grief, but more recent models include seven.
- Shock is our initial reaction following bad news.
- Denial is an attempt to avoid feeling the pain. Often times we will distract ourselves in some way.
- Anger is a reaction to not having any control. We may experience overwhelming feelings of frustration pinpoint our anger to a specific source, such as God, a doctor, or an event.
- Bargaining is an attempt to regain control. During this stage, we try to find a way to escape the pain. For example, a person dying of cancer might adopt a very healthy lifestyle, or a parent whose child is dying might spend lots of time praying.
- Depression comes in when our bargaining attempts have failed and we realize that we cannot control the loss. Some may fall into a deep depression.
- Testing is when we experiment with ways to cope with our loss.
- Acceptance, the final stage, is where we understand the loss. This does not mean that we are “over” it. It means we are able to move forward. A person’s ability to accept a loss and move forward depends on the specific loss, personal psychological factors, the presence of a supportive environment, and more.
If you are having a difficult time dealing with your grief, please reach out. Our providers are capable and willing to take that journey with you.