Grief is the natural response to the loss of a beloved someone or something. Grief may result from the death of a person or pet, the ending of a relationship, or the loss of employment. While grieving individuals may experience a variety of emotions in response to loss there is no typical or expected responses. However, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross theorizes that many people experience following five stages of grief:
- Denial, represents the resistance to accepting the reality of the loss. It is a defense that helps numb the pain and shock of the loss. It is usually temporary, as we adjust to the loss and the pain of it.
- Anger, is a deflection from the reality of the pain of the loss. It may be directed at the person who died, the self for being angry, God/a higher power, or anyone perceived to have contributed to the loss.
- Bargaining, as the reality slowly starts to set in is an attempt to regain control. An attempt to make a deal with God/a higher power. It is one last attempt or hope to change the reality of the loss.
- Depression, a common reaction to the knowledge of the loss. It may include regret for what was not done (e.g., not enough time with the person), as well as preparation to face the loss.
- Acceptance, a recognition and facing of the loss. Emotions tend to stabilize during this final stage of acceptance.
Coping with loss is personal and unique to each individual. Everyone progresses and processes through it in their own individual way. Grief knows no timetable. A person may need to seek professional help if they are having difficulty with day to day routines or are having continued thoughts of self-blame or suicidal thoughts. Mental health professionals can help individuals with coping strategies, memory making activities, decreasing isolation, seeking and providing support, getting back into a routine, and/or seeking fulfillment in old or new ways.
If you or someone you know could benefit from help coping with grief or loss, our therapist, Kelly Jones, may be able to help. She has over 17 years of experience working with people experiencing various forms of grief and loss as well as working in a hospice for 7 years as a group facilitator and individual bereavement therapist. Please call our office at 678-205-0838 to schedule an appointment with her.