The Five Stages of Grief and Sorrow

Good morning to each of you and a huge thank you for continuing to visit my site, even in the absence of new posts. May you have a wonderful day and a fabulous weekend. There were several search terms about sorrow and despair, and I’d like to discuss sorrow, or grief, and the five stages of recovery.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross defined five stages of grief as it applies to death and dying. These stages occur at your own rate, and often show up like a “dance,” with gentle flowing from one stage to the next, back again to the second stage, skipping one or two, then back to one again, etc. Grief is such an individual process that each of you grieves uniquely.

In this discussion about grief and sorrow, I am expanding loss to be anything from a death of a loved one, to the death of a pet, the loss of a job (even if it’s your choice), a move, and loss of a relationship of any sort (even if you left). Anything that leads to the change in the familiar is a loss and needs to be grieved.

Here are the five stages, as defined by Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. In the denial stage, you cannot see that what is happening is real, and have difficulty grasping the situation. This stage is all about being in shock and not being able to respond much.

In anger, you are mad at the situation, as well as at the person that is/has leaving/left you, even if they died. Many of you may feel guilty for getting angry at a dying person, yet, that is typical to be mad that they are leaving you, that they did not take better care of themselves, etc. In the case of a move or loss of a job, even if you initiated these, anger hits when you mourn the loss of the familiar, and you get angry at yourself for making the change into the unknown.

Bargaining shows up and often is a plea to God, or whatever the power is you defer to that is bigger than yourself. “If only you’ll let Susie live, I will change xyz, I will be good…” The next stage is depression and this is quite normal to enter a state of depression for a period of time in response to your loss. Be aware, however, if it becomes prolonged or if it affects your ability to eat and sleep for long periods of time, or if you become suicidal. In these cases, seek the care of a physician to determine if you are clinically depressed and in need of medication.

The final stage is acceptance, as you realize you cannot change what has occurred. In this stage, you are not saying that you think everything is okay, yet, you accept things are as they are. You finally gain some peace from the situation and are able to move forward with your life.

That’s a summary of the five stages of grief and sorrow, as defined by Kubler-Ross. Tomorrow, I will talk about another philosophy of grief and sorrow that is related to loss.

Share

How to Deal with Sorrow and Grief

Good morning to each of you! It is my wish that you each have a lovely day, filled with peace and joy. The term that was searched for three times is “how to deal with sorrow,” and I added “and grief.” So that is what I am going to speak about today… sorrow and grief.

If you’re in that space of sorrow and grief, I am sorry for your loss, whatever it might be, and I wish you well in your grieving process. The focus of my writing today is on how to get through your sorrow, your grief.

First of all, know that each of you dealing with these difficult emotions does so in your own way. Each of you deals with sorrow and grief the way you saw your parents and other adults deal with them when you were a child.

The messages we are often told as children, and as adults, are don’t feel bad, replace the loss, just give it time, be strong for others, and definitely grieve alone. So, in response to these messages, we hide our grief and sorrow, put on the face that all is okay; we shove it deep within. This does not serve you and, in fact, is damaging to your soul.

You are going to feel badly until you are ready to move on, and it is beneficial to you not to deny these feelings. To replace the loss is to avoid your feelings. Time heals, depending upon what you do with your time. If you sit and wallow in pity, you will not heal, but if you take action to get to a place of peace, the time will assist you.

Know that it is okay to show your feelings about your sorrow and grief, yet that will most likely make others feel uncomfortable. Express it to those people you trust, those who will not berate you for your feelings.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has defined five stages in the death and dying arena: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Know that you will experience these things and that they are perfectly normal. You will go back and forth among them; it is not probable that you will go in a straight order with them. The length of time you spend in each stage is totally unique to you and cannot be compared to another.

I’d like to stress not to compare your grieving process with anyone else’s, as yours is totally yours alone, depending upon what you observed while growing up.

Sorrow and grief can occur after a death of a loved one or a pet, after a move of any sort, after leaving a job, from loss of self-worth, or any time there is a loss. I highly recommend the book The Grief Recovery Handbook: The 20th Edition by John W. James and Russell Friedman.  It contains valuable exercises to do to assist you through your process to heal from sorrow and grief.

Again, my condolences, and I wish you well on your journey through sorrow and grief.

Share

Dealing with Sorrow in Sobriety

Agony of Sorrow

Sorrow refers to the deep, often long-continued mental anguish caused by a sense of loss or disappointment. Grief implies a more painfully intense anguish, usually of shorter duration. Whether our grief and sorrow are of short or long duration, when we get sober, we must first deal with the loss of our friend alcohol. 

We have a, hopefully, brief period of mourning the loss of our familiar life. My sorrow and grief over the loss of alcohol in my life was pretty short, because I was thrilled with the lack of hangovers I experienced.

You see, for seven years prior to my quitting, I drank myself into oblivion every night, and the hangovers from that were horribly difficult. So, to not be experiencing hangovers was freedom.

We also will find ourselves possibly mourning the loss of friends we had during our drinking and partying days. Often, we have to give up these friends because to be around them is too tempting to us… we may want to pick up a drink. At the very least, we may need to take a vacation from them until we establish our sobriety.

Then, as we continue along our course of sobriety, we look at our history, our wounds and scars from earlier days. For me, this meant looking at my childhood. I found myself experiencing grief and sorrow over the fact that I never had a happy childhood. I had to grieve that loss before I could move through my sorrow.

It is an agonizing feeling, sorrow is – searing in quality. We are tempted to ignore it or shut it out, but we must feel it to continue along our course of sober living.  To repress it will only prolong our recovery and may even lead us back to the drink. I found that journaling helped me to deal with the sorrow I experienced.

When we have dealt with our sorrow, we are ready to move on to other emotions. And, sorrow may not hit us until we have been sober for a while.  In that case, we are prepared when it comes.

What is your sorrow about? Have you taken the time to acknowledge it, to really feel it? Allow yourself to do that and your sobriety will be stronger. You will be stronger.

Share

Getting Past Sorrow and Despair

Good morning. Today I will deal with getting past sorrow and despair. In the book, they are separate topics, yet, today I am combining them as they often go hand-in-hand.

Face of Despair

Sorrow is defined by Webster as a mental suffering or anguish caused by loss, disappointment, or regret. It can include grief, which is a more intense anguish related to a specific misfortune or disaster.

When experiencing sorrow and/or grief, one’s thoughts can get to those of despair, defined as being without hope, being hopeless. All of these emotions are quite debilitating and, in my case, were accompanied by depression.

Sorrow and despair left me with no will to live and, in fact, I was praying to God to let me die, as I felt there was no purpose to the pain I had endured during my life-time, that my experiences were just a torment to me.

When one feels these emotions, it is a common tendency to want to numb the feelings by drinking, eating, shopping, or various other activities that we do obsessively. This only enhances the sorrow and despair.

In my case, I felt the sorrow and despair into my sobriety, up until I was about five years sober. At that point, I had an experience that dispelled both of these emotions. I had the opportunity to discover my purpose in life, and I felt needed, valued, and  that my experiences were valuable to others.

Quite by accident, I realized I could help others by relaying my story. Suddenly, my life had meaning and purpose. I no longer felt that deep hopelessness that is characteristic of despair. I no longer felt sorrow and grief over my life.

I was not able to do this alone. I sought counseling, took medication for my depression, and joined a support group to deal with my drinking issues. Then I set about the arduous and scary task of looking at my emotions and dealing with them. I started to take responsibility for my healing.

If you are feeling sorrow and grief from a loss of something or someone in your life, know that there are stages you will go through before you gain peace. Allow those stages occur; don’t fight them. Know that you are working your way to eventual peace.

It may be frightening for you to face your emotions; be gentle with yourself as you look. Most importantly, get help. Talk to someone – a trusted friend, clergy, a therapist.

As you deal with your sorrow and it lessens, despair will also diminish. Most of all, stick with it through the tough times, for your life has value to others in your world. We each have value in one way or another. It is up to you to discover what your value is. This will happen naturally as a result of dealing with these difficult emotions.

I wish you well as you deal with getting past sorrow and despair. Remember that your life has value. Know that eventually you will get to the bottom of your emotions and life will begin to turn around. Commit to yourself to stick with it, and ask for help from others and the divine forces of the Universe. Remember, you are working toward finding inner peace. 

 

 

 

 

Share

Inspirational Sayings About Love

Acknowledgment of Others

At long last, I return to the blog. I took the last topic of patience and really put it to the test. Perhaps I have lost some of you… that is my fear. If not, thank you for your patience. It’s appropriate that today’s topic is acknowledgment, as I wish to acknowledge my lack of writing for almost a month.

I was in Pennsylvania from the end of May until June 6th. Since my return, I have been unable to sit down and write. I have had trouble getting back into my work routine, period. I have taken three weeks to pull together  documentation for an application to a health care program. In the process, I learned to do a profit and loss statement for my business, so it turned out to be positive.

As a review, what we are doing with this blog is this: In my blog, I write on the topics that are in my book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, in the order in which they appear in the book. We are going from fear, worthlessness, sorrow, and despair, through discovery and awareness, to lessons learned about how to treat ourselves and others. Finally, we reach joy and peace. It is a chronicle of my own journey from the depths of despair and praying to die, to wholeness and happiness, joy and peace. I’m glad you’re joining me on the journey.

I have to acknowledge that one reason I have procrastinated is because I am uncomfortable writing the blog using my new keyword phrases, inspirational sayings about…, inspirational quotes about… Sometimes, they just don’t fit. Sometimes, I feel uncomfortable using them from blog to blog. I am concerned about what you, the reader, will think. Will you get impatient with it? I have to get past that as I am on page 1 in Google because of using those keywords and phrases. This reaches a large segment of people with which I would like to connect. So please have patience with me as I continue this practice.

On with acknowledgment… In the book, there are inspirational sayings about love, about how we can show love by acknowledging others. “We go within so we can reach out to others, and we reach out to others so we can go within,” is one such example. “We need to matter to each other, and to ourselves,” is another.  I think it’s important to acknowledge another… a smile to one on the street, a clerk waiting on a customer, a response to a loved one when they are talking. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or complicated, but it is so important to show love and respect to others, and this is one way to do that.

In our, perhaps, haste to acknowledge others, we sometimes forget to show the same love and respect to ourselves. We brush aside our hurts, our pains, and do not take the time to feel them, grieving for what it is we have lost, giving importance to our feelings. They are not wrong, they are just what is. Once we can experience them, acknowledge them, we can heal from them, and gain the higher benefit from the experience. I think, too, that once we share what we are feeling, it makes us more human to others. We can all relate and connect at that place of hurt, as we have all experienced it. It is a part of living, a part of being human.

We can watch ourselves, as we go through our days, giving acknowledgment to others, remembering to offer it to ourselves, our feelings, our thoughts. We can remember to acknowledge ourselves when paid a compliment, also. So often, perhaps, embarrassed, or not feeling worthy, we brush it off. Does that not  negate the other person’s thoughts and feelings, showing them disrespect? Does that not belittle our strengths and who we are? Just some thoughts on quotes about life…

 

 


Share

Developing Awareness

Birth of Awareness

There came a point in time after I dispensed with the false bravado that awareness began to creep up on me, that I began to be aware of myself  in the world. In the book, in this image and verse, I see the lushness beyond the opening, and after allowing myself to feel my anger and sadness, my grief and sorrow, I decide to walk through the gate to awareness. I make a choice.

The first area in which I developed awareness was how to identify my feelings. I had kept them numb for so long with my drinking, that they were raw when I quit. I also did not know how to name them, I often struggled to determine what I was feeling. My ability to identify my feelings has grown tremendously, as evidenced by my last post.

Part of my awareness includes identifying how I “am” in the world, i.e., how my actions or words have affected another. Again, referencing my last post and the issue with which I was dealing, I sorted out my feelings and resolved my impatience and anger. Then, I decided to share with the person involved the process I had gone through, as I was trying not to hide my feelings. I would not recommend that, as in this case, it only served to upset and hurt the other person.

In searching for the mature way to handle the situation I described in my last post, it would have been better to talk with a trusted friend about my feelings, write about them, and resolve them without mentioning my difficulty to the other person because I identified that their actions were appropriate, even though I did not like them.

A large majority of my awareness has been in the area of learning lessons – learning that experiences come to me for the purpose of healing and growing. When I think of unpleasant situations in this way, my energy is directed toward the lesson and what I can learn, rather than on blaming another person or situation for my grief, or whatever. I am able to detach myself from those things and learn the lesson the experience is trying to teach me. This habit has helped me to reach my goal of inner peace.

How about you? What does awareness look like for you?

Share

Sorrow

Agony of Sorrow

Searing pain is how I describe sorrow in my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing.” Webster defines sorrow as the deep, often long-continued mental anguish over loss, disappointment, sadness, grief, or regret. My sorrow was over the loss of a deep love I thought was a mutual feeling. It was not.

At the same time I was mourning the loss of a deep relationship with this man, and my extreme sense of loss and disappointment, I was dealing with the loss of a decent and happy childhood, for I, like many of us, did not have one. The pain I felt was all-consuming, raw. I was in agony with sorrow.

Then, over time, and with changes to my heart and mind, it released its grips. I cannot even point to the one incident that led it to disperse. I do know that through it all, I kept sober. Even though there were many times I didn’t think continued sobriety was worth it, I stayed sober anyway and found on the other side of sorrow that sobriety was and is absolutely worth it. It was my continued sobriety which allowed me to reach inner peace from the chaos and pain I felt.

Now, I look at the experiences with the man, or my childhood stuff – and I become grateful for them. How in the world can I be grateful for that which caused me such pain, you may ask? Well, without those experiences, I would not be who I am today.

And I like the caring and compassionate qualities which I feel and which I allow others to see. I like the life lessons I learned from the experiences, the ability to look into myself  that I gained during the healing process, the grieving process. The journey to this place is what my book is all about.

The biggest thing for me was to allow myself to feel those feelings of sorrow for as long as they existed. I took responsibility to move forward in my growth, while still allowing myself to feel that sorrow when it arose.  It took me five years to get past the unrequited love and the feelings of sorrow associated with that. If you’re dealing with sorrow, are you allowing yourself the time and space to feel it? There is a saying… “The only way past it is to go through it.” My best to you if you’re going through it right now.

Share

Are You Being Honest With Others?

Welds of Honesty

Oh, my goodness. I have not written since July 19th! I apologize for the delay. I was out-of-town at my 40th high school reunion and have been debriefing since my return late on the 27th. Going back to my reunion reminded me of how closed I was in earlier days, how I was not honest with others about who I was inside, how I didn’t even KNOW who I was. This thought leads me into today’s topic from the book, which is about being honest with others about who you are.

The verse in the book that goes with this image talks about looking inside to see who one is, then deciding to honestly show others what is found. When doing a self-appraisal, however, perhaps we dwell on the negative and are not able to identify our positive points. We are linked to a negative perception of ourselves.

When we can identify the delightful things about ourselves that make us the unique contribution to the fabric of our world that we are, can we then let people see that side of us, see our strengths and skills, our joys and sorrows? Identifying these things about ourselves may be difficult for some; yet, we each have positive and delightful traits and characteristics, we each slide along the continuum of feelings.

Perhaps, once in touch with who we are, we can share such things as joy, gratitude, sorrow, and despair. There is a closeness with others when one begins to share of themself in this way. The others, in turn, reveal more of themselves and these people connect on a deeper level.

It is important to trust the persons to whom we open up. It would be easier to convey the exhilarating emotions than the grieving ones. Yet, when we act beyond our fear of exposing ourselves and our truths, beyond the fear of being vulnerable, we experience that closeness with others. It generates more joy and more gratitude, as well as more love , kindness, tolerance, and respect.

This is not to say that all persons are trustworthy of our revealings. One must discern that another is safe to talk with. It would not be advisable, for example, to share with one who treats our thoughts and feelings with disregard and abuse, as that wounds our soul.

Do you experience this type of honesty with others?  What is that like for you?

********************

As the author and photographer of her book of wrought-iron gates and accompanying prose, it is said by others that Carolyn CJ Jones’ book offers hope to the soul in the corner who struggles. Perhaps there is a bit of a struggling soul in each of us. Perhaps we each could benefit from the journey she shares. View the additional information about the book to the right of this blog. Buy the book from her website and receive free shipping.

Share

Call It Courage

Spaces of Courage

We all hold feelings of hurst, disappointment, grief, and despair deep within from which we desperately seek relief. We repress it, drink it away, or turn to another to make it right.

Perhaps, rather than cast the pain out of our heart or give it to another, it would be better to find the courage to touch that oh-so-vulnerable spot, to hold the pain tenderly, gently… with great compassion.

If we find the courage to invite in  a sacred force to embrace those deep wounds with us, perhaps we will be graced with the ability to befriend our pain and then, to heal.

For those of you new to my blog, let me explain that I am blogging through the topics as they appear in my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing. This is a book of 42 photos of wrought-iron gates and accompanying prose that reflects my journey from feelings of worthlessness and deep despair to joy and peace. It is also a reflection my journey in sobriety…

They call it courage when someone moves forward despite fear. It takes courage to do that. Sometimes, it is very pronounced, very evident that we are acting with courage. Sometimes, courage whispers quietly, and says simply to try again tomorrow.

They call it courage when there is fear and you are scared; it wouldn’t be courage unless you are scared to do something. Then, as you’ve read above, a belief in the powers-that-be is all it takes to summon courage. Asking that power for help is usually successful.

Often, people are unable to summon the courage to deal with hurt, pain, disappointment, and they turn to others to “fix” whatever it is. This puts a lot of pressure on another. Or, they turn to drinking to drown out the sorrow.

In sobriety, we learn that drinking only increases the sorrow and misery one is feeling. Without liquor to dull the pain, we feel it acutely. Perhaps this is when a higher power is essential in helping to move forward bravely, to feel these feelings, these deep wounds. Over time, the pain dissipates, as we find the courage to face the origination of the pain. As we feel it fully, we are then guided to a place of healing from the wound. They call it courage when one sticks through this process.

When is the last time you displayed courage?

Share

Living With Serenity

Balance of Serenity

I am serene, carried by the winds to places where I am held in balance with great beauty and strength.

Serenity. That feeling of calmness, even amid storms. It is a prevailing attitude, one which overshadows and, thus, contributes to all other attitudes that follow. For me, it comes when I am in alignment with the powers of the Universe, that which is greater than myself. It is a realization that all is well, that I am being provided and cared for.

I got to serenity through the experiences and changes I’ve discussed in this blog. You have traveled through the book with me and read of the trials and tribulations associated with getting to this point.

Perhaps you related as we moved from worthlessness, sorrow, and despair, through awareness to self-appraisal. Past forgiveness and on to principles such as compassion, tolerance, and gratitude until we have reached a point of joy and serenity. What a journey it has been.

As we finish the book, it is time to start over and I am putting out a “request for proposals.” When I go through the book again, is there any specific tack you would like me to take? My thought was to share about each topic in a general way, not relating to my own experiences. I welcome your thoughts. Please share them.

Share