The process of grief

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.” 
― William Shakespeare, Macbeth

The five stages of grief, as explained by psychiatrist, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Healing and loss speaker, David Kessler, has gone on to add a sixth stage of grief – meaning.  My thoughts on this 6th stage to grief is that we all want “meaning” when we have gone through a loss, or a perceived loss. We all want understanding. 

The length and levels of this theoretical, systematic process vary. Each individual will (and should) invariably go through some level of grieving over each actual loss, or each perceived loss. I say “perceived loss” because the pain experienced can be just as real when you “think” you have lost something or someone permanently through death or destruction. This may not be the case. Possibly, someone has temporarily removed themselves from your life, and they later get in touch with you to reconnect. Or, you may have misplaced a valuable object and weeks later find it. These scenarios can seem permanent at the time, and may trigger the stages of grief. It is still a feeling of loss to you, even if it is remedied later on.

I highly recommend that people seek out professional help with their grief process.

When a child loses a toy, or has a toy jerked from her hands by another child, and she is unable to retrieve it, she may go into a process of grief. Every stage might not be exhibited in the precise order that most text books list, but there will be a display of emotional levels.  I believe that each person will go through a necessary grieving process, unless that person stymies it with the dark ink of bitterness.

In truth, there is no “end” to the grieving process when you have lost a loved one.  Early in the grief process, grief can act like a sinkhole that deepens and widens with each recount of the “incident.” The pain surrounding the loss of a loved one may slightly lessen years down the road, but the memory of that loss seems to stay with most people for the rest of their lives. I have talked with people who have prematurely lost a loved one. They have expressed that they are always aware that their loved one is gone, and they are always aware of a sense, or feeling of loss in their emotions.

When you are stymied in the grief process by bitterness, the ink of that bitterness frames and floods the remembrance surrounding the loss. Bitterness can poison the entire process and keep you in a stage of grief for years beyond what is normal, and again, I use the word “normal” lightly.

I have had conversations with people that experienced loss, and I could still see the bitter anger on their face – twenty years after the incident of loss. The daily torment of bitterness takes a toll on the health and well-being of a person. Don’t let bitterness stymie the process of grief and grief recovery. Seek help from a professional.

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