Loss can be a divorce, a relationship ending, death of a loved one, including pets, a separation from a loved one and loss of functioning whether physical, mental or emotional. Coping with loss can be a difficult, draining and an overwhelming experience filled with grief.
The stages of grief by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross can and should be applied to all losses, not just death. The stages of grief are a fluid process and not always completed in order. Kubler-Ross' 5 Stages of Grief are below:
5 Stages of Grief:
1. Denial: You have difficulty believing the event has happened or is happening. You may feel numb and in complete and utter shock regarding the loss. This is a defense mechanism as you may be so overwhelmed you can not process everything right away. Denial is part of the healing process.
2. Anger: You are getting in touch with your anger about the loss in your life. You may be angry with yourself or blame others for what has happened. It is easier for you to be angry with doctors, family members, etc, than to process and feel the emotional pain. This is part of healing, in this stage, you may start to feel the pain of the loss and go back and forth between, anger and pain and disbelief of the situation.
3. Bargaining: You may bargain with God, you may ask your soon to be ex "Can we remain friends?" You may say things to loved ones such as " if we had only gone to the doctor sooner." Bargaining does not change the outcome and you may still be feeling quite a bit of deep emotional pain, anger and at times disbelief. Generally you will start feeling more emotional pain and less disbelief.
4. Depression: You are deep in emotional pain. You are very aware of the event and the emotional pain that coexists. Any reminder of the situation reopens the emotional wound. At times you can feel anger and despair. This is part of the healing process. Feel what you are feeling, and lean on your emotional support system.
5. Acceptance: You are accepting the event, you may have a feeling of calmness and understanding.
Loss is very personal and everyone experiences it differently. There is not a right way or a wrong way to process loss and feel grief. You must feel whatever you are feeling. Your support system can not take your pain away, but they can comfort you while you are experiencing the loss. Your loved ones can help support you through the grief process, but ultimately you need to grieve in order to heal.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only.
Dr. Deb is a successful Psychologist who practices in New York City. She is an Anxiety Specialist who works with adolescents and adults providing both individual and couples counseling.