Grief is an overwhelming emotion that we all deal with differently and, regardless of how strong your faith is, when someone you love dies, your heart will waver. Dealing with loss is difficult, exhausting, emotional, and painful.
There are stages of grief and it is important to understand what those stages are in order to face grief head on.
For some people, grief is accepted. If a loved one who had previously been suffering dies, people will grieve that loss but might also be grateful that their loved one is no longer in pain. For some people, grief is the sharp pain of a sudden loss that is extremely difficult to comprehend.
Spiritual Care Support Ministries has broken down the various stages of grief to help you understand your grief, process your emotions, and lean on the grace of God.
Denial is a result of experiencing tons of emotions at once: sadness, hopelessness, shock, and more. In this stage of the grief process, it is important to simply do what you need to do in order to face every day. When you’re facing denial, your body and mind are telling you that you’re not ready to process grief yet.
The denial stage allows us to slowly process that a loss has occurred, and once you start to wrap your head around the reality of what has happened you can start the healing process. Denial is an appropriate response to grief, and once we work through it we can begin to move forward.
When you lose someone you love, especially unexpectedly, you often grow angry. For many people, anger is a hard emotion to manage. However, you need to allow yourself to feel it. You’ll feel angry at many people, sometimes even at God, and that is normal.
Anger needs to be felt in order to be dealt with. Although it can be scary to feel anger deep in your heart, once you start to face it, it will begin to dissipate.
You may find yourself bargaining with yourself, and often, with God. You might ask God to take you in place of your loved one. You might promise God you’ll be a better person so you never have to face a loss again.
You might bargain with yourself, saying you’ll never do certain things again in order to protect others whom you love.
Bargaining is difficult to deal with and it is often a result of misplaced guilt. Bargaining is a phase that you may encounter as you go through at any time throughout the grieving process, from start to finish.
Losing a loved one may often result in ongoing depression for months to come. You may experience a loss of interest in things you’d typically love to do. You may abandon church in favor of staying home with your thoughts. You might feel guilty in moments where you find yourself cracking a smile.
It’s important to recognize that sadness and depression in the face of a loss is normal: it’s okay to feel sad, and you will. However, do your best not to turn away from God, your faith, your friends, or your family. You need a support system in order to get through what you’re going through. Talk to God, write to God, seek answers and pray about how you feel and how you need Him now. If you’re not up for going out, ask a friend to sit with you and watch a movie. Being in the presence of others will help you process the loss and cope with it.
Keep in mind that acceptance can takes a lot of time to achieve. Years after losing a loved one, you might find yourself still facing grief. Acceptance isn’t about getting rid of all the emotions you’ve felt throughout the journey of the loss of your loved one, rather, it’s about learning to live with these feelings of loss. The loss will always be a part of you, but it will no longer dictate your daily life.
Acceptance is more about experiencing your new normal than about “moving on” from this loss. Grieving the loss of a loved one will never be easy, but you will be better in time.
Grief is a deeply personal and singular experience: no two people experience grief the same way, which is why it is often difficult to relate to others who are coping too. It’s important to remember that the only way you will start to heal is if you let yourself feel the emotions that you have, pushing them away will only prolong the process.
Spiritual Care Support Ministries provides grief and bereavement counseling and support groups in Warrenton, Virginia, and around the world.