Tag Archives: grieving process

Stages of Grief-Denial is Normal

This is the first in a series of articles I’m writing on the stages of grief. I wish I could offer an easy way to get through the grieving process. There’s no magic potion, but I hope I can be of help with advice and understanding.

*Update 7/9/2016: Here’s where you can find my posts on the other stages of grief-anger, guilt, depression & acceptance.stages of grief

While some models consider there to be 5 stages of grief, others say 7. As I see it, there are 5 stages of grief, denial being the first of these. The other stages are anger, guilt/bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I’m not an expert but I have gone through the death of a partner twice and these are the stages in which I struggled.

Denial is the universal, absolute stage that everyone goes through. No one goes through every stage the same way. Some may be in denial for a month or two while others may get past it quickly; there’s no time limit. As long as you don’t lose grip on reality denial is perfectly normal. It guards and assists you in this first phase of your new life.

Denial presents itself in different ways. You may reject the idea that your loved one is gone; someone got their information wrong. You may think that any moment they will walk through the door and everything will have been a huge mistake. Sometimes we have to see our departed to be certain, and even then it can be too hard to accept.

As you’re making arrangements and attending the visitation and funeral, you may be on auto pilot. You know they’re gone and you’re heartbroken, but the whole thing still hasn’t sunk in yet. This is another form of denial. You’re not refusing to believe what has happened but you won’t let yourself reflect on your situation too much, either. You’re just getting through what has to be done. This is the mind’s way of protection, keeping you from dealing with too much shock at once.

As life goes on, you still may not allow yourself to think about what’s happened. It may take a while to get to the point where you can do so and allow yourself to deal with the raw grief. That kind of grief is powerful and scary. Denial allows you to get through the initial shock and still keep yourself together, giving you time to absorb what has happened and reach acceptance.

This first stage of grief is normal, and in my opinion, necessary. It temporarily protects you from the terrible truth, allowing you to muddle through until you’re emotionally strong enough to deal with what has happened.

Those close to you may not know what to say or do during this time, but don’t deal with your grief alone. Even though this stage is normal, as always, please seek professional help if your loss is too powerful to deal with on your own.  There are also support groups and websites with loads of information on grief. Although this journey is your own, it is helpful to know that the emotions you’re experiencing are normal and others are going through similar situations.

For more information visit grief.com or another of the many websites dealing with this issue.

7 Tips to Help Get Through Your Grief

Losing a loved one is an awful ordeal. There are quite a few stages of grief and the grieving process varies with each person. And I know everyone hates to hear it, but time is the biggest healer. Over time, you may not miss your loved one any less, but the raw grief will lessen. It will become easier to live your life without them.

I’ve compiled a short list of strategies to use in your daily life to help you get through thisgrief difficult time.  Some are strategies I used and others I should have used, looking back on my own grief. I lost my husband in 2011 and a boyfriend in 2013 and I still struggle with depression at times, but for the most part I’ve moved on and am trying to enjoy life again. I did make mistakes along the way with family and friends and I kept to myself too much. But we learn from experience and I hope what I learned will be a help to you:

  1. See a therapist. There’s no shame in seeking emotional help. Therapy is beneficial in sorting out your feelings and facing your loved one’s death head-on. Talking with a professional is a good choice as they aren’t involved in the situation emotionally and can give sound advice.
  2. Find a support group. Supportive family and friends is wonderful and necessary, but you should also seek a group of people who have gone through the same thing. To socialize with people in a similar situation and listen to their stories will show you that you are not alone. You will see other members grow and find happiness and this will inspire you. I have a fledgling support group on Facebook for widows/widowers, if you’d like to join.
  3. Don’t distance yourself from your loved ones. It’s hard to face each day when you’re grieving, but you need others around you and they need you too. It’s all too easy to close yourself off from the world. Be careful and don’t spend too much time alone like I did.
  4. Control what you can. Take care of things that can be managed and it will give you a sense of control over your life. Keep your chores up, your bills paid, etc. You’re already too overwhelmed for words so it’s best to keep any added stress at bay.
  5. Keep a routine. The world as you know it has utterly changed; a sense of normalcy in as many areas as possible is important. Grief is exhausting, so go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time each day and try not to sleep all day (guilty). If you take medication, especially an anti-depressant, keep it by your bed with a glass of water so you can take it first thing in the morning. Then get up and go about a routine of showering, eating breakfast, whatever you would normally do. This falls in line with controlling what you can.
  6. Learn to live as a single person if you’ve lost a spouse or partner. Don’t hinge your happiness on having a mate. Love yourself and eventually learn to enjoy being on your own, so that one day when or if you’re ready to date, you’ll be strong and independent. Use this time in your life as an opportunity to get to know yourself.
  7. Find a creative outlet-writing, crafting, designing, whatever will make you feel good about yourself. You may even find something that will turn a profit, providing you extra income and a sense of accomplishment. If you sell your items, online or at craft fairs, it will open up a whole new avenue for socializing.

The loss of a loved one is devastating. There is no quick fix for grief, but over a period of time,grief which is different for everyone, life will get easier. My wish is that these tips will help you along the road to recovery, even in a small way.

So you’ve got nothing to lose; go ahead and try a few things from the list. And always remember that you’re not alone!