Grief Timeline and Behaviors – Part 1

Good morning to you each. I hope your day has dawned with the promise of peace. Today, I picked the topic of grief and want to look at the process involved in grief recovery – how long it takes and what we might be dealing with throughout the process.

My information here is based on personal experience with seven years of a debilitating grief from which I recovered, as well as the book, The Grief Recovery Handbook, the 20th edition, by John W. James and Russell Friedman. Some of what I say about the stages of grief are based on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ teachings about the 5 stages of death and dying.

Perhaps the first thing about the grief process is to know that grief is normal after loss of any sort… death of a loved one or pet, divorce or loss of a relationship, loss of a job, or a move from one place to another. The other thing to know is we are not alone. Others have also felt loss and gone through grieving.

But what do we do when we feel this acute emotional pain, this loss? We take baby steps, and we allow ourselves to feel the pain in waves, or however it presents itself to us. If we cannot deal with the pain all the time, that is normal, and need to divert ourselves, distract ourselves, that is normal. I don’t recommend using substances to numb ourselves as a healthy distraction, however.

We honor our process, the steps we make. Our feelings may go back and forth between denial, anger, bargaining, and depression until we finally reach acceptance. This is totally individual and while one person goes through these in order and not too lengthy a time in each, another may go back and forth hundreds of times and take months or years to go through.

It’s important to remember we are each unique, that the relationship we had with what we have lost is unique and, thus, our responses will all be unique. People will say well-meaning things to us which are not useful and even hurtful, like “Get over it,” or, “You didn’t need her anyway. You’ll find someone else better.”

These things are said out of ignorance of knowing what to say to someone who has suffered a loss. Try to have tolerance of these things that are said and not take them to heart. Know that we as a society have not learned how to deal with loss and so, are uncomfortable with it.

I want to continue this tomorrow but I will leave you with this thought: Alternating between a roller coaster ride and calm are quite normal and if we can see our pattern and the things that trigger us to go on the ride, plummeting, than we can predict it and not go under when it hits.

Tomorrow, I will address feelings specific to the grieving process, and ways to move through them. Please come back for the conclusion when I write about how to cope with grief and its behaviors.

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