The accomplished author and widower, C. S. Lewis, once said, “No one ever told me grief felt so much like fear.”
The year 2020 has been unlike any other. There seems to be an overwhelming amount of loss occurring, whether it’s due to the global pandemic or not. My family experienced a tremendous loss this year, which had nothing to do with the virus. Whether it happened this year or the next, the loss would have been overwhelming; but there is something about loss this year that’s different.
It’s as if there is an extra layer of anxiety or sorrow in addition to what we already experience when it comes to losing a loved one. One of the reasons for this could be the idea of the unknown ever looming over our heads. As coronavirus cases are increasing, and as the death toll continues to rise, we never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next.
When all the dust settles, there is still that all too familiar sting grief carries with it that is standard, no matter our environmental or societal conditions. I’m sure you are familiar with the 7 stages of grief. Psychologists have explained the 7 stages we go through when we experience loss. These stages are not linear, and everyone’s process is different, but at some point, you usually experience some, if not all, of these stages.
1. Shock or Denial
This is the stage we experience when we’re having a difficult time believing what happened. It is a defense mechanism very common amongst those experiencing grief.
Some of us resort to anger when experiencing a loss. It could be our first reaction or our last. Losing someone could bring about feelings of resentment toward the person you lost, God, the medical staff, or anyone that had involvement with the loss of your loved one. It’s not always rational, nor can it be explained, but it is natural.
This can be a very difficult stage because you may begin to feel helpless. No, you can’t bring the person back, but you may scramble to heal the pain in any way you can, caring little about the logic behind the methods. This may look like making promises to God, writing letters, helping others more and more, or possibly destructive habits.
We’ve talked about depression quite a bit here in our community. Depression rears its ugly head somewhere along the 7 stages and has a way of making us think we’re going to be stuck in the stage forever. It can make you feel as if there’s no way you can go on, and there’s no set amount of time that we may linger in this stage-or any of the stages for that matter. The best illustration I’ve heard to describe this stage is feeling stuck in a hole between 2 mountains, never being able to dig your way out, or climb your way up.
Somewhere along the line, we finally accept the reality of losing a loved one. Some take significantly longer to find it than others. Many of us, whether we are wanting to or not, can’t reach this stage without counseling. It can be difficult and should not be rushed.
6. The Upward Turn
This stage maybe defined under various terms. This is where grief and anger have died down a bit and you’re much more calm and relaxed. This stage, just like any other one, can occur more than once.
7. Reconstruction and Working Through
This is the stage where you are ready to begin putting your life back together and move forward. It doesn’t mean the grief is gone altogether, but you come to a place where you’re ready to live for what’s ahead, despite how you may still feel.
Again, grief is not a linear process, and it’s different for each person. It is common and expected that you will go through some or all of these stages at some point during your grieving process and it’s okay. No one can tell you how to grieve or how long to grief. You do whatever you need to do to get through the toughest of times that words can’t express within reason, of course. Seek counseling or guidance from a pastor, professional, or close friend you trust.
To further the conversation, a panel of phenomenal ladies and I had an honest discussion on grief. What is grief? How do you work your way through it? How to respond to someone who is going through their bereavement process. And more. Click here to view.
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Grief is strong, but you are stronger and uniquely remarkable!