Mental Health

A Journey Into Grief. Looking into the process and the stages | by Michael Patanella | ILLUMINATION | Oct, 2021

Looking into the process and the stages

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I was taught about grief, before I even knew I had any grief. That’s my first thought that comes to mind when I think of the word grief. Although I have written several hundred publications, I do know that I haven’t covered grief in many great lengths. Reason being, I wasn’t yet expertly educated on what it all means, and I also had a bit of an unclear assumption of what grief was all about.

Let’s take a look at my incorrect notions, the correct fact about grief, and a look at five stage of grief. Grief is officially defined as “the natural emotional response resulting from a significant loss.”

I always had a similar understanding of the way that grief was defined, but it was only until the past couple years where I realized that the loss which causes grief does not have to only connect to a loss of a very close loved one. It doesn’t even have to be the loss of any human being. It does branch further.

While the loss of a loved one is the main category for grief, it is by far not the only type of loss that can cause grief. And when did I start to learn this? The lessons started, as I was beginning the process of treating my mental health, and seeking sobriety from years of severe addictions to drugs.

Art Tower; Pixabay

The five stages of grief, is a model by Kubler-Ross. It’s an organized philosophy that states there are specific stages, or sets of grief that together complete the stages of grief.

While it is five, and there is a numerical order to them, we may not always stick exactly to same order at all times. If we do go through the stages as one through five, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are done with our grief after number five. We may pass through them, and at times go back and forth, and out of order too. Returning to previous stages is not abnormal, and it is just a matter of each person differing from the next.

Denial is the first stage of grief. It starts off the shock, by with an insistence that the loss just cannot be true. It isn’t real. It all must be just a nightmare. The truth can go from being minimized, to totally denied and it is almost always the starting point that kicks off the process of going through the stages of grief. It happens almost immediately after the loss happens.

Geralt; Pixabay

Anger, and or Guilt is the next stage of grief. It’s now past denial and a person is able to see that the loss has really happened. An intense anger will develop, and it can stay inward, being angry at self, and go outward as well, being angry at other things, or other people. Sometimes it may not even seem to make sense as to where the anger is going, but it’s real anger nonetheless. It can appear to be directed at the wrong things, or things that don’t seem to relate in anyway to what or who has been lost.

Bargaining is the third stage of grief. People will declare that they will do anything to get a miracle to make the loss turn untrue. This one is especially prevalent in losses like relationship break ups as well. Being totally determined to convince the ex that they will give them anything to take them back.

A stage of begging and pleading.

They will give them anything, or they will literally do anything. This is a point of argument where the likeliness of changing what has happened is zero chance. But the bargaining may go on and on, with new negotiation attempts or dreams of “fixing” it.

While tears may not have been shed yet, they likely will start at the next stage. That stage is Depression. Here is where the real internal pain and heartache will show itself. This is a point of crying, staying in bed or day, and maybe sleep deprivation. It may be difficult to even take a shower, or eat a meal. We may feel our unhealthiest at this point and parts of our daily lives may not go as usual right now. The terms have come to be at this time.

This stage is notorious for being the part that literally feels like it will never end. And people feel that their crying and grieving is going to stay forever. While it won’t remain forever, it is a stage that one must go to, in order to find the last stage. This is a point that does go on for awhile. With time being the only healer.

Dokabalint; Pixabay

That last stage is Acceptance. While still being a painful time, this final stage is finally a beginning to getting to some peace in the loss. A person realizes that they can accept the loss, and they see that life can go on. They learn that they can move on with their life. A person may come to a conclusion that even though the loss will be painful forever, it will at least get a little bit easier, as time goes on.

So as I said earlier, I myself used to think that grief had to be about a person dying. I didn’t learn until finding sobriety, that grief can be present for any significant loss we suffer in our lives.

Besides death, it can be the loss of relationships, careers, activities, habits, health, and believe it or not, addiction itself is also quite a major loss once the process of sobriety starts. It may be a loss that can lead to positivity, but it is still a difficult process to grieve, because it was the driving force in addict’s lives for long periods of time. For a recovering addict, it is extraordinary crucial to grieve properly, or else the risk of relapse will be very prevalent.

Getting used to be sober and no longer having drugs in a person’s life like mine is no way as easy as it sounds. But the better we get over being separated from substance abuse. This is my first article, with another one being written in the near future. With that, I will delve into my own grief I have suffered in my life, and cover my grieving process.

geralt; pixabay

is a Trenton, New Jersey Author, Publisher, Columnist, Editor, Advocate, and recovering addict, covering topics of mental health, addiction, sobriety, mindfulness, self-help, faith, spirituality, Smart Recovery, social advocacy, and countless other nonfiction topics. His articles, publications, memoirs, and stories are geared towards being a voice for the voiceless. Hoping to reach others out there still struggling.


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