Tag Archives: stages of grief

Stages of Grief-Guilt

Let’s talk about the third stage of grief-guilt. You can find my previous posts on the first two stages here and here.

Some may argue in what order the stages occur, but the order may be different for everyone.  The stages are not exact for everyone, but are a blueprint so that you know what may happen at some point while you’re grieving.

Some lump bargaining in with the guilt stage. I don’t recall bargaining for anything but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience this. You may try to make a bargain with God for your loved one’s life. It’s a totally understandable state of mind when grieving.

When we lose someone we tend to eventually blame ourselves-if only I’d done this or that, if guiltonly I’d noticed their health was deteriorating, if only I’d been kinder. This kind of thinking can make you come undone.

I don’t mean to sound callous, but the awful, hard truth is that you can’t bring them back and you weren’t responsible for their death. In most cases no one in particular is to blame.

With that said, I do understand guilt. It’s been 5 years since my husband’s death and 3 years since my boyfriend’s and I still occasionally feel guilty about some things. The difference is that now I can shake those guilt feelings off and not dwell on them.

Writing this post reminds me of an interview I saw a long time ago with Waylon Jennings, an iconic country singer. He was in Buddy Holly’s band and was great friends with him. The following video explains what happened the day of Holly’s death. Waylon was supposed to be on the plane but let Big Bopper have his seat. Buddy told Waylon that he hoped he froze on the bus and Waylon told him he hoped his plane crashed. It was all in fun, but as we know, the worst did happen.

What’s not in this video, and I cannot find it anywhere on the web, is what Waylon’s friend said to him years later. He asked Waylon if he would bring them back if he could. Of course he said he would. His friend told him that since he couldn’t bring them back, he couldn’t have been powerful enough to have killed them in the first place.

Think of the overpowering guilt that Waylon Jennings must have felt for the rest of his life. Don’t allow guilt to consume you. It’s a simple statement, but what Waylon’s friend told him has resonated with me for a long time now. It’s so true. We are not in charge of when someone passes away and we can’t bring them back.

Something else to ponder on: ask yourself if you purposely did anything to your loved one to hurt them. I’m sure the answer is NO. You wouldn’t have done that, so maybe you have nothing to feel guilty about. Maybe you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.

When guilt rears it’s ugly head try not to give in to the belief that you’re responsible for your guiltloss. Your loved one would not want this for you. Things happen and sometimes it doesn’t matter what we do to, we can’t prevent it from happening.

Even though guilt is normal at this time, it’s an awfully heavy burden. It’s natural to want to assign blame when we’re hurting, but try to keep your focus on recovery and remind yourself of the above information. Click here for more articles on grieving from PsychCentral. I also have an article with tips to help get through your grief.

Stages of Grief-Anger is Okay

This is my second installment of articles about the stages of grief. This time I’ll talk a little about anger. You can find the first installment on denial here.

Anger is a potent emotion. The loss of angera loved one will probably cause you to feel anger at some point towards people and your situation. Again, this emotion is another normal stage in your grieving period, and you will get through it.

There may be anger towards the one who has passed away. You may experience a sense of abandonment, especially when you’re having a bad day.

I remember yelling at my husband for leaving me, when I was alone of course. One time I went to the cemetery and laid beside his grave and  yelled and cried because I was alone after 26 years and had no clue what to do. This phase didn’t last long.

If you are feeling this way, don’t feel guilty about your anger. It’s perfectly alright.

Your anger may be directed at the doctor, hospital, or EMT personnel. You may blame them for your loved one’s death, even when the fault doesn’t lie with them. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that in some cases the fault is with these folks, but usually it’s no one’s fault.

anger

Resentment towards God during this time can be common as well. You may think that you’re being punished for something. For others, God is their comfort and without Him they wouldn’t be able to get through this horrific time. If you are a believer, turn to God for strength and comfort.

And don’t forget your family members. They may not know what to say to make things better, but you need each other, so turn to them as well when you’re struggling with your emotions.

It’s possible that you will even get angry with yourself for not handling the issue the way you’ve seen others handle it, but death is not the same for every mourner. Don’t compare yourself to others; your situation is unique to you. We all must deal with tragedy in our own way.

There will be days when you’re mad at the world and not at  anyone or anything in particular. decoding angerYour anger may even be totally irrational. Don’t worry, you’re human, and this is going to happen. Just try not to lash out at your family or friends.

When you’re enraged try to work through your emotions rationally, take a deep breath, count to 10, or even scream for a few seconds (if you’re alone). Please know that you’re not crazy, you’re normal and this too shall pass. Try to remember that your loved one wouldn’t want you to be miserable-they would want you to try to be happy. Yes, this feels like a huge stretch at the beginning of your grief, but you will get there one day.

I have begun a Facebook page for widow/widower support. It’s early days, but I’m hoping it will be a help to those in need. Check it out here.

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.