Grief & Loss

March 24, 2014 at 6:00 PM

When a loss happens, it’s natural to grieve.  Losses hurt, and grief is the mind’s way of processing that pain.  What is grief, and how does one get past it?  How long should the pain of loss last?

 People often associate grief with the loss of life, such as the death of a family member, but the fact is people grieve over many types of loss.  It might be the loss of a job, the loss of health (such as in the case of becoming ill), or even the loss of an idea (such as finding out you can’t serve in the military).  If a loss of any kind has occurred, grief can be a natural reaction.

 Grief is typically associated with sadness, but grief can come in many forms.  According to a quintessential book on the subject, On Death and Dying, by Elisabeth Kübler Ross, there are five stages of grief, after the initial shock of the loss wears off. 

  1. Denial – people often deny that the loss has occurred or that the loss has had any effect on them.
  2. Anger – quite reasonably, people are often angry at having experienced a loss.  This even happens after a death as people experience anger that an individual has died.  This may not seem rational to some people, but it’s a natural stage of grieving.
  3. Bargaining – people try to make a “deal” to prevent or mitigate the loss, such as, “I promise to go to church every Sunday if my sister survives this cancer.”
  4. Depression – this is the stage that can most easily be seen outwardly, but it is often only a small part of the process.
  5. Acceptance – once other emotions have been processed, the loss can be accepted and the person can move on with his or her life.

 It’s important to keep in mind that people can move from one stage to another in any order and may revisit a stage during the process as well.

 Unfortunately, no one can put a timer on grief.  Grieving a loss takes the amount of time it takes, and that can be anything from days to weeks to months or even years.  However, if you find you’re stuck in grief after a loss, seeking professional help is best.


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