Dying or dealing with the death of a loved one can be an emotionally devastating process. In both instances, a person may experience the same stages of grief as described by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
Understanding the five stages of grief and knowing what to expect is one way of coping with death and dying. This blog will explore these stages to help you understand what you, or those around you, may be going through.
Stage 1 – Denial
This is usually the first reaction stage, whether you’re a terminally ill patient or you’re mourning some who has recently passed. In this stage, patients might believe that the diagnosis is mistaken and cling to a false reality. In the case of a recently deceased loved one, denial helps us survive the loss.
When this stage occurs, the world can become overwhelming, meaningless and senseless. This is, in effect, a state of shock. When you are in this stage, you will find yourself wondering how you can possibly go on, or why you should. Going through your day will seem impossible.
Denial helps to pace the feelings of grief, allowing in only as much as you can handle in that moment. Once you begin to accept the reality of the loss, you are becoming stronger and moving on in the grieving process. This is a good thing, but it means that there are harder times coming. Now you have to confront the feelings you have denied.
Step 2 – Anger
Allow yourself to be angry. This will help you heal in the long run. You might find yourself angry at the deceased for dying, at yourself for not taking enough care, at your family, at God for letting this happen, or at someone who didn’t attend the funeral. Anger covers your pain and it gives your pain structure. You have something to hold onto, a connection made from the strength of your fury.
Step 3 – Bargaining
Once anger has dissipated, you will experience a form of hope, a hope that if you could only do this or change that, your loved one could be spared or come back to life. You find yourself lost in “what if” and “if only.”
Guilt and bargaining go hand in hand and you may begin to wish you had done something differently. In this stage, you’re stuck in the past, trying to bargain your way out of pain.
Step 4 – Depression
After bargaining, our attention moves from the past to the present. We begin to feel empty as grief enters our lives on a very deep level. We feel as if this stage will last forever, but grief is a normal response.
During this stage, it is normal to withdraw from life, to be lost in an abyss of sadness, to
wonder if there is any point going on. When the reality of the situation confronts you, depression is understandable and a necessary step towards moving forward.
Step 5 – Acceptance
While you may never feel “OK”, you may begin to look towards the future. If you’re terminally ill, you may think about preparing for death and accepting it as reality. If you have lost someone, you may have accepted this new reality as a permanent one. You will learn to live with this new norm and learn to adjust to a life without your loved one.
You may feel guilty at first, but remember that you can never replace your loved one, only make room for new connections. You will have to listen to you own needs to move forward, change, evolve, and grow.
Hetherington Funerals in Perth is here to help throughout the process. While you focus on the grieving process, allow us to expertly handle the funeral planning. Contact us today for more information.