Grief can be painful but oh so necessary to go through in order to heal completely. The process of grief takes many phases; some phases may overlap, recur, recycle or even be skipped until you reach a place of peace.
No body can tell you how to grieve or how long it takes. Everyone is impacted differently.
* Stages of Grief:
- Denial is usually the first phase. The pain of the truth is so severe that your ego cannot accept it and so you make excuses in your mind that they are not gone or if ill, will not die.
- Fear then kicks in. The possibility that you have to live the rest of your life without them can feel devastating.
- Bargaining takes over to override the fear. You search for ways to make it all better and save them from the impending death. Many people start bargaining with God at this point. ‘I promise to do better if you let him live’, is just a small example of this.
- Anger starts to emerge, either at yourself, the deceased one or others.
- Guilt that you somehow could have prevented their death but didn’t. These thoughts are painful as they are all about self-blame.
- Shame is about who you are in relation to the deceased or the cause of their death. Many people confuse this with guilt but it is completely different. Guilt is about doing while shame is about being.
- Depression is the sense of hopelessness. You may withdraw from others during this phase.
- Emptiness is felt along with depression at times. You may feel completely devastated and find it very difficult to go about your daily routines with a solid mental focus.
- Sadness is where you cannot feel any joy in your life. This is also the beginning of finally realizing that your loved one is physically gone.
- Acceptance is when you can start to understand and allow the thoughts that they are gone.
- Forgiveness of yourself or them for leaving you. You now forgive them for dying and hold sweet memories instead of painful ones.
- Reconnection is when you allow yourself to reconnect with others in moving forward in your life.
- Serenity is the peace you can now feel knowing they are gone but your life is intact and you can survive.
* “Conscious Living” by Gord Riddell and Cathy Ryndak, Vitality Magazine
What if our loved ones never die?
Many people believe, me included, that our souls never die. Our bodies are simply a shell, a vehicle for our soul while here on earth.
I had explained to my 9-year-old son at the time my sister passed that her body was like a car. Her soul is the driver of that car. When a car gets old and rusted and is no longer useful for us, we get rid of it and buy a new one. I further explained that her body got tired and was not useful for her journey any more and so she, as the driver, left it. Her soul lives on and she continues to live with us all but we just can’t see her. She has been with us since the day she left her car. She has and continues to guide us through our dreams and thoughts. She has come to me numerous times, to heal me, to guide me and most importantly, to remind me that she has never left me. Knowing and understanding this, my grieving healed.
When you allow yourself to think and believe that the soul never dies, you can grieve and heal a lot faster.
Now that you have allowed yourself to think outside the box, you have opened yourself up to a greater healing process of losing a loved one.
Ways to grieve and heal:
You must express your feelings. It is vital to the healing process. If you need to cry, scream, pray or talk, please do it. Never allow anyone to tell you how to do it or how long it should take.
- Find safe people who understand grief and will not judge you. Not everyone understands grief and they may be afraid of it themselves, so choose the right people to express your feelings with knowing they will just be there to listen.
- Take as long as you need (unless it becomes debilitating to your daily life in which case you may need to speak to a professional to help you along). We never really get over the death of a loved one as we continue to miss their presence. But we can allow ourselves to grieve and heal so that we allow joy and peace to enter our lives once more.
- There is no right or wrong way. Everyone grieves differently.
- Have a conversation with your deceased loved one; ask them to show you a sign that they have heard you.
- Keep an open mind when you look for their sign. It may come as a feather, a butterfly fluttering by, a bird, or even the ring of the telephone. Once you have asked for a sign, let it go and go on with your day and trust that when they are ready they will do it on their time, not yours. When something a bit unusual happens, like a feather or penny appearing, trust your intuition. Many people chalk it off to coincidences. Don’t. If you find yourself asking if this was the sign, then believe it.
If you are still struggling with unprocessed grief and need help, please contact Therapy With Carol now.