We all face grief in life. Each individual handles grief differently, but there are 10 stages that people may go through during the grieving process. Some people may skip certain stages, and some people may experience these stages in a different order. Emotionally, there are often setbacks and strides forward throughout the grieving process. Learning about the stages of grief can help provide insight into your own recovery process.
This stage is characterized by a sense of numbness. To protect yourself from the overwhelmingly painful experience you may shut down your emotional responses. This gives you the time you need to process the pain so that you can learn to understand and ultimately accept it in smaller doses. This is often accompanied by a sense of disbelief or denial.
After being emotionally detached, you may feel a flooding of pent-up emotions that you need to express and release once you begin to realize the full extent of your loss. These emotions are often extremely powerful. Fear, despair and anger are commonly associated with this stage. Hypersensitivity, acting out, and venting are also typical reactions in this stage of the grieving process.
Depression and Isolation
The surge of emotions eventually ebbs into a deep depression and an overall feeling of loneliness, helplessness and isolation. People typically feel the need to be around others for support while also wanting to be alone, which creates confusion. The confusion often triggers a despair that envelops the grieving person. People may become extremely withdrawn during this stage.
Emotional pain puts excess stress on the body. This stress weakens the immune system, which can lead to illness. People who are grieving may experience physical pain, nausea and fatigue. Normal sleep patterns may also be affected, resulting in insomnia or excessive sleeping due to exhaustion.
Panic and Anxiety
Feelings of anxiety often accompany approaching social situations after dealing with a loss. Stress is caused by trying to make sense out of the loss. You may feel abandoned, and the paranoia and anxiety can lead to feelings of mental illness or instability. It is important to remember that these feelings are a normal part of the grieving process.
Anger and Hostility
When you feel pain, you may want to lash out at the people around you. You might blame those around you for causing the pain, and you may feel guilty for these outbursts of rage. The best course of action is to begin acknowledging the anger.
Guilt is commonly experienced when grieving. Focusing on negative memories and how your personal flaws affected a relationship will not change the situation, but you may feel better after telling someone else about these experiences and how you handled them.
Difficulty Resuming Normal Routines
One of the most difficult aspects of healing is returning to your everyday life. If you are grieving a song or scent can bring back painful memories at random, triggering a potential relapse in the recovery cycle. It can take a long time for you to make a comfortable transition into your normal routine because you have changed as a result of the experiences you have gone through.
Eventually hope surfaces after you take the initiative to reach out and look again to the future. You begin to work through everyday routines and the despair begins to fade away. You accept the changes you need to make to find happiness and satisfaction in life again. Your painful memories begin to become a part of the past and you learn to command the present so you can move forward with confidence and stability.
Acceptance and Moving Forward
Gradually you learn to fully accept the changes that have occurred. You realize that you can become comfortable with your new role in life. You begin to feel strengthened and renewed as a result of your experiences. Your energy is revitalized and your sense of self is restored after accepting your transformed identity.
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