Grief – a deep and poignant distress caused by, or as if by, suffering death or loss.
I grieved in 2014.
I had hundreds of people under my care—dozens of coworkers, some I had gotten to know over more than a decade and some I considered friends. I had projects that I poured my thoughts and heart into and a salary that afforded me financial independence. It was all in place on a Tuesday; then it was all gone on a Wednesday.
Death is not the only event that is grieve-worthy.
I do remember the death of my grandfather. I remember how I could not understand how the world could go on without him in it. A part of the person I had become fled this world when he did.
My reaction to both of those events was more similar than different.
In the late 1960s Elisabeth Kubler-Ross wrote her book, “On Death and Dying”. In it, she laid out the 5 Stages of Grief and Loss. They are (though not necessarily in this order):
1. Denial and Isolation – “this can’t be happening”
2. Anger – something we choose rather than the pain of the loss
3. Bargaining – this is more like self-blame; “what if I had done this or that differently?”
4. Depression – the natural product of beginning to accept the end of something or someone
5. Acceptance – finally finding a way to embrace the reality of what has happened and beginning the next phase: moving on.
To progress through these stages to the healing state of moving on requires brave and difficult efforts. These come from a very insightful article by Carolyn Steber for Bustle.com:
Let yourself feel
Grief is a storm of emotions. It is normal to feel them. Yet many people often feel guilty for feeling relief or pain. There are no abnormal feelings after suffering a grieving loss, so allow them to happen.
Turn to your support network
Let your loved ones and friends give you that tender loving care that they, as friends, want to give you through this hard time. Unconditional love can help you maintain your connections while you grieve. Isolating yourself for too long isn’t healthy.
It may feel natural to not eat or to ignore your hygiene while you are grieving, but eating healthy, exercising (Mom calls that “getting some fresh air”) and journaling can really help move the process along.
Accept that time doesn’t heal all things
Time does heal wounds, but not all pain and loss can be erased or fixed. But it isn’t supposed to be, not completely. We are supposed to learn and take lessons away from periods of grief and mourning. To try to erase it and pretend it didn’t happen isn’t realistic nor is it healthy.
Don’t let anyone else tell you how to feel
Despite my best intentions with this article, or your loved one’s best intentions when they comfort you, the cascade of feeling your experience during grief are yours and yours alone. There is no right or wrong order, or a better or worse degree of any emotion. Feel things your way. This is your process to get through.