Grief is an emotional response to loss. It is a normal process that demonstrates our social embodiment. It is unexpected. Hence our emotional support system creates varied responses.
American-Swiss Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler Ross writes, in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, about the 5 Stages of Grief. The 5 stages of grief contain denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages cover terminal illness and death.
Since ancient times grief has been associated with the loss of a person, primarily the death of a loved one. Renaissance literature consists of poetry on grief. Milton laments his friend’s death, while Antonio collects public support for his master’s murder in Julius Caesar.
In modern times, grief is not confined only to the loss of loved ones. Today, losing your job or ending a relationship or poor academic performance, and other issues also affect us psychologically. So, grief covers physical, social, spiritual, cognitive, and other aspects.
5 Stages of Grief
The 5 Stages of Grief model or Kübler-Ross model was based on Kübler Ross’s work with terminally ill patients. These stages evolved after Kübler Ross conducted a study at the University of Chicago’s Medical School. Kübler Ross documented her study based on people’s reflection on illness and death.
The Theory of Grief, popularly known as DABDA, consists of:
Whenever we learn about any loss, we refuse to accept it. This is the process of denial stage, where we generally respond: It isn’t true. There must be some mistake. It is a sort of defense mechanism to cope with the feeling of loss. Denial to accept the loss gives some time to the brain to understand the truth.
The purpose of denial is to avail time to adjust. This initial stage of the 5 Stages of Grief contains the flashback memories of the person you lost. You start focusing on things associated with loss.
When you accept that the loss has actually happened, you respond with strong emotion: anger. This anger is generally multi-dimensional. You may be angry towards the person who died, or at your beloved who broke the relationship, or at the employer who fired you. At this stage, you ask a common question: Why me? Psychologically, you are categorized by antagonism towards a person.
It is also true that everyone has a different approach to anger. But it is a natural response containing frustration and distress. Interestingly, it is a positive sign that the person is progressing towards the final stage of grieving.
Bargaining is one of the 5 Stages of Grief. At this stage, our cognitive system starts accepting the loss, though partially. It is the stage where we repent our previous actions.
At this stage, we try to make a deal with our higher power, religious or spiritual. We promise ourselves not to repeat mistakes. It generally happens while reacting to news of terminal illness. We often repent our previous habits for any serious illness.
It is also true that bargaining in the grieving process is never solution-oriented. We never find a permanent solution at this stage. It is a step ahead of resolving anger, trying to find choices to accept the loss.
The fourth stage of the 5 Stages of Grief brushes us with the truth. When we accept the loss, we try to get it back. Reality edifies that the loss is permanent, but we try to cheat reality. This leads to depression.
Depression often caresses negative ideas. Most people find no reason behind their existence. Existential-crisis is a common symptom of depression. People lounge towards negative thinking, even more, daily work becomes a tedious task for many.
The overwhelming sadness leads to depression. Generally, depression is considered an unnatural process. However, psychologists believe that depression is natural in the grieving process that leads to acceptance.
Acceptance is the final stage of the 5 Stages of Grief. But it doesn’t mean that grief is over. Here, a person needs to manage things more carefully.
In the case of terminal illness, at this stage, we prepare ourselves for the loss. We accept the truth that we are going to lose a loved person. But it doesn’t mean that the person justifies it.
The whole grieving process is complicated, and acceptance is even fluctuating. However, acceptance is embracing the fact but not forgetting the loss. People start compromising with reality, leading to normal life. People start trusting those who stayed with them during difficult times.
How to Cope With the 5 Stages of Grief?
Man is a social animal. Our attachment with our loved ones fabricates the thread of emotional exchange. We refuse to accept their permanent absence in life. But loss is natural, and we should cope with it. At any phase of life, we experience the stages of grief.
Studies reveal that the death of a spouse, marital separation, and imprisonment affects us the most. These life-changing events sometimes break our whole emotional support system. Sometimes the multiple stress-causing events make the grieving process more stressful.
In most cases, people themselves cope with the grieving process with family members and peers help. Sometimes socially and emotionally marginalized people go through the process of complicated grief.
Complicated grief occurs when the intensity of grief is not being decreased. A mental health professional may advise diagnosis or treatment that may include Complicated Grief Therapy. It includes medical advice diagnosis. If the effect of grieving lasts than normal, you must not ignore medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
In normal cases, you may follow these steps to cope with the grieving process:
- Give yourself proper time.
- Try to control overwhelming emotions.
- Accept that grieving is a process.
- Spend time with your friends and family.
- Explore your hobbies.
- Do creative things at home.
- Read inspirational books and biographies.
- Spend time in the garden.
- You may also join any support program.
- Take care of yourself. Always remember that you are a precious gift.
Grief is accepting the loss and learning the meaning of life. Life is a wonderful gift of nature that becomes wholesome with our loved ones. Coping with loss and separation is part of life. The beauty of grief lies in the message that we must value our loved ones and spare time for them.
Love and a cuddle will surely enlighten your soul.
Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.