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The grieving process- 5 stages

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Sep. 29th, 2005 | 04:40 pm
mood: hopefulhopeful
posted by: nancykeller in xmovingonx

I hope it's okay to post this here, I thought it might be helpful to some people. Although it's not new information to a lot of people, it can be helpful for others learn, and I have included some helpful tips on what to do for a friend through each stage. :) I did teach a class one time (at a psych unit actually) about the grieving process... Here's what I found in my research and study. I don't actualy have the handouts or my notes any more, but here's what I remember from my class... So here it is, in a nutshell... hopefully something helpful to someone, or at least information to ponder and discuss! *hugs*

It's very normal for people to go through several different emotions when they are dealing with the grieving process, in fact, holding back on any one of these different emotional stages can sometimes cause people problems in the long run. Consider a moment of grief you have experienced in your life and you might recognize some, or all of these stages, even if they are only momentary. Whether you are dealing with the loss of a favorite knick-knack, or something severe like the loss of a loved one, the stages are the same. It is only the amount of time spent in each phase that is different. Here are the five stages:


Denial
"No, ____ did not just happen!"
Whether the loss is big or small, a normal first reaction is disbelief.  We don't want to have to deal with loss in our lives and to deny that hurtful things have happened  is a very normal and expected thing.

As a friend, allow and expect the person experiencing the loss to be in disbelief for a while. It's likely that this phase will pass quickly, and they will come to acceptance in their own time. Do not press the issue or try to argue them into believing. Allow them to do so on their own.


Bargaining
"If ___ doesn't happen I will ____."
This stage is related to Denial in that the person still doesn't believe what happened. They may have thoughts of how to get themself OUT of this hurtful situation in any way that they can. Especially in the loss of a loved one, a person may have feelings of, "take me instead."

Listen to these feelings...be alarmed if the person genuinely has the potential to harm themself or others. Most of the time this is a fleeting and normal reaction.

Anger
"How can _______ happen to me!"
Anger is the second stage of grief. When the person accepts the truth of the loss, a likely first reaction can be one of intense anger and can even manifest itself in times of misdirected hostility. Anger is a healthy way of expressing that you are hurt by a loss, and it helps the person to come to terms with the fact that the loss has happened. The anger stage usually lasts longer than the denial stage. In some cases, people are "stuck" in the angry stage for an unhealthy length of time, and that can be harmful to them eventually.


As a friend, expect that the person experiencing the loss is going to be angry. Allow them to vent - listen to them yell! Give them space, or be available if they want you to be.You don't have to reply. Just listen. Do not be alarmed if their anger is misguided towards you, others, or to areas that you don't agree with. Let them be angry. Let your friend know that you are supportive, but don't be pushy or argumentative. Don't become upset if they seem angry with you. Realize that they are more angry with the situation, but not with you personally. As with denial, this stage also can pass quickly.

Sadness
 "I am so devistated that ____ happened."
It is good for the anger stage to move into the sadness stage.  Sometimes people have difficulty transitioning into this period. Sometimes people feel like they need to "stay strong" in order to deal with their loss or events...and the anger stage is where they remain. When they do move on to sadness, it is normal and healthy for them to have periods of intense emotion. "Crying it out" is a healthy way of dealing with this stage. It is also expected to see them go through a time of depression or isolation. This stage can last the longest... days, months, even years can be expected according to the size of the loss.


Be available - be a "shoulder to cry on." Allow the person to express their sadness. Do not be alarmed if the person expresses sadness frequently or cries a lot. DO be alarmed if the person voices wanting to hurt themself or others. Know when to encourage your friend to ask for help. Help the person to do this if they are not able to do it themself.

Acceptance
"___ happened to me. But I am ready to move on."
The end of the grieving process is acceptance. Acceptance is reached when the person feels that they have grieved enough and they are ready to move on. A good sign of acceptance is being able to talk about the loss without feelings of intense sadness or other emotion. Acceptance does not mean that the person will never grieve again, in fact, it is normal and healthy for the person to regress from time to time, by periodically feeling angry or sad all over again. Acceptance is the stage in which people feel like they are going to be okay again. Sometimes, people never reach this stage. Sometimes people only live in this stage momentarily. Acceptance should be your goal after a loss, but not "hurrying" yourself through the process will get you there the best.


Places like this forum are great for this stage, and the others! Being a friend to someone in the acceptance stage means realizing that, depending on the size of the loss, they will have relapses from time to time. Be patient. Be kind, and know that by helping others move on, you move on yourself as well.



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