All humans have one thing that we definitely have in common, we have all experienced grief at some point in our lives. Although, none of us are unique in this fact, each of us experience grief in unique ways. We all experience it differently.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a loved one. Whether it is a significant other, a child or a parent, or even the loss of a furry family member, our grief is very real to each of us. Even our pets are just as important a family member and their loss can be as painful as any other in our lives.
The Stages Of Grief
The stages of grief are as follows:
Denial is a defence mechanism that helps us cope, usually when the loss is fresh. We just can’t wrap our head around the fact that they are no longer here. Sometimes we feel like they will come through the door, around a corner, call us on the phone like they always do or we will wake from this horrible nightmare. It is one of the ways the mind tries to buffer us to the pain of our loss.
Anger is something not everyone will go through, but many of us do. It is a masking mechanism that the brain uses to mask our true feelings of pain. Often it is directed at others who are not to blame for the cause of our grief. In the midst of the deep pain we are experiencing, we aren’t always rational in our thought and actions. If you are someone who is around that person who is lashing out, know that it isn’t personal and they are temporarily ‘not in their right mind’. They will get past this stage, so please be patient with them.
During the stage of bargaining, we often feel helpless and even quite vulnerable. This is when we start with the ‘what if’s’ and ‘maybe if I had done this or that’ stage. Most the time, the situation was just not something we could control, but we feel that maybe we should have. I know with my wife, I would relive the scene in the hospital and start questioning everything and every decision I made when it came to my wife’s care. The doctors and nurses were doing what they could. It was out of my hands, but this is still a stage we go through. Don’t beat yourself up.
Sometimes loss can be so debilitating, that we go through a period or periods of depression. It is another self defense mechanism to try and avoid the deep pain we feel. We try and run from the pain and in doing so, avoid people. We withdraw into ourselves and feel we are alone and can do this all by ourselves. No person is an island and we do need others. If depression is something you feel stuck in, please seek the help of a mental health professional. Getting that form of help, especially over the death of a loved one, no longer has the negative stigma it used to have attached to it. Sometimes we need that bit of help to get through.
Acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is all peaches and cream in your life now. You start coming to an acceptance that they are no longer in your life. Your life has changed in a big way. You probably aren’t even the person you used to be, while they were alive. You have come to a place where you accept where your life is now and how that may have changed who you are. You will become grateful for the time you had with that person and how much they being in your life has enriched you and made you the person you are now. Embrace the change. Learn to be your true, authentic self. This is who you were meant to be. Also, know that at this stage, you will have more good days than bad, but sometimes those bad days do happen. Just sit with it and know that the moment will pass. You got this
People move through the stages of grief in varying degrees of duration and intensity. Although these stages loosely follow this order, their order is not set in stone and could be experienced in any order. We will sometimes go back and experience a previous stage again, before moving on to another. Again, there is no right or wrong order in going through these stages. Allow grief to just happen and don’t overthink or judge the process.
Also, never let someone else tell you how you should or need to feel or that you ‘should be over it’. Only you know how long that will take and there is no ‘getting over it’. We will never ‘get over it’, but we can learn new ways of Being in this new reality, without our loved one in it. In turn, it is important that we are all respectful of each person’s way of processing their particular loss.
People mean well, but many times they will say things without thinking about the pain they are causing with their words. Some people just haven’t had the level of loss that we have had and that’s okay. Good for them that they haven’t had to endure the loss of a child or the love of their life. That is pain that is hard to wrap the head around. You just want to wake from the nightmare that you are sure you are in.
Never let anyone guilt you into thinking you just need to ‘move on’ or ‘get over it, already’. You take all the time you need. Sometimes it takes a very long time, but just know that although you will not get back to ‘normal’, you will find a new normal. A new way of moving through your life without your loved one, and that is fine. You will survive this, just don’t feel you have to go it alone. You are never alone. You will find those that each of you can lean on and make it through.
Grief During The Covid-19 Pandemic
During the past year and a half that the world has been experiencing the Covid-19 pandemic, our losses and the pain experienced has been exacerbated by the social distancing we have had to endure. When we go through the grieving process, it is important to have the social connections, but many of us have been cut off from our social support groups, including other family members.
We have had to find other ways to cope, like virtually, but it still hasn’t been easy to navigate the new reality we find ourselves in at the moment. Please reach out and find a support group in whatever that entails. Be it friends, family, or even a professional in which to talk to and help you through the grieving process, this is an important step on the road to staying mentally healthy. If you feel the need to talk to a professional, don’t feel bad about that. There is nothing wrong with finding a neutral party to talk to about your feelings and when they have a degree, many times they may just be what we need to sort through it all.
Hoping this article will help someone, somewhere, if only to better navigate the pain they find themselves in. Again, you are not alone. Reach out to someone.
Glenn M Ryan ©2021
Glenn Ryan doesn’t have a degree when it comes to grief, but speaks from the experiences of losing both his infant daughter in the summer of 2007 and the sudden and unexpected loss of his wife in October 2019. He has done much research on the subject, besides moving through the various stages of his own grief. It is still a process.
Feel free to reach out if you just need to talk about your own grieving process. Know that you are not alone. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about Glenn and his story, please visit his website: