Healing Through Loss | 8.24.2021

Have you ever experienced loss? How did it impact your life? How did you grieve?

Loss is an inevitable part of life, and grief is a natural part of the healing process. Loss can be many different things such as losing someone you love including pets, a job loss, the loss of health, infertility, or letting go of a long-held dream. People process loss and experience grief in many different ways. 

Elisabeth Kϋbler-Ross was the first to study loss and grief.  She developed the five stages of grief in her book, On Death and Dying. While it’s important to note that everyone moves through grief differently and there is no “right way” to grieve, these stages simply create an understanding and context when you or someone you know has dealt with loss. 

The first stage is denial, which serves as a buffer to shocking or difficult news.  The world may become meaningless and overwhelming. Life doesn’t seem to make sense. You are in a state of shock. 

The second stage is anger. Why is this happening to me? There are many other emotions under anger such as fear and, ultimately, the pain. 

The third stage is bargaining. This often looks like making a deal with God, asking “If I do this, will you take the loss away?”

The fourth stage is depression. The person may feel numb. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This stage often feels like it will last forever. 

The final stage is acceptance. It is about accepting realty about our loss and recognizing this new reality is the permanent reality. We may never fully like this reality; however, we eventually accept it. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs. We move, change, grow and evolve. We may invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. 

People often think of each stage lasting weeks or months. The stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.

Grief is sometimes compared to climbing a spiral staircase where things can look and feel like you are just going in circles, yet you are actually making progress. Being patient with the process and allowing yourself to have a range of feelings about the loss can help. 

Everyone has their own way of coping with painful experiences. The list below may help you with ideas about how to manage your feelings of grief. 

  • Talk to family or friends
  • Let yourself feel your emotions
  • Seek spiritual support
  • Read books

-Kristen D Boice M.A., LMFT, EMDR Trained

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