Grief is a part of life and each of us experience grief and loss at some point of time. when we lose someone, a loved one grief becomes a mandatory phase which each of us handle in our own way.
There are several stages of grief, passing through which gives us completion of the process and the final acceptance.
Sometimes we do not have enough time to grieve and mourn the loss of something or someone and we fail to pass through all the stages; that can mean subdued expression of emotions which can later on harm mental health in a deeper way.
There are commonly five stages of grief which experts have evaluated.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross discusses them in her work “On Grief and Grieving”:
Denial- when a loss comes to us, we are in shock, we are numb. We generally do not believe that life can be so unfair to us. When someone has died or we have lost our job, we initially do not admit to ourselves that the incidence is true; the state of shock bewilders us. During this phase, you want to stay away from everyone and everything that remind you of your loss, and stay in isolation.
Anger- It is the necessary process towards healing and cure. You feel angry because you are unable to do anything, you are helpless to recover this loss and get back the thing you have lost. But the willingness to be angry is important if you want to recover from the grief. This phase may seem endless, but underneath this anger, there is pain, immense pain, hopelessness and frustration which needs a vent for future mental wellness. If it remains submerged within, it can cause long term problems.
Bargaining- It is phase where you start dealing with God, or the super power. Before you lose a person you bargain in the way that, “Please God I will never fight with my husband, please cure him”. After the loss or death, you bargain to keep yourself away from the truth. “Oh God, I will do everything you say, I will be good, I will never be angry again, please change the mode of life so that I can find this whole episode of loss is just a bad dream. Please give me back what I have lost”, even though you know that this is not possible. This is a faith that helps us survive with a hope that things will be alright.
Depression- when we find our bargaining has not helped, we feel everything is gone. Life has no meaning anymore. Empty thoughts; empty feelings; your environment is completely lost in the process of mourning. You don’t feel like eating or sleeping. If you go to sleep you wish you never wake up, because you are depressed and you do not wish to live anymore.
Acceptance- acceptance is often misunderstood as an ‘alright’ or ‘ok’ situation. Acceptance comes after the depression phase when you learn to identify the truth. No longer you keep yourself under misconceptions that the loss will be retrieved. You do not wish so anymore. You accept the reality of death or loss as it is. This is the ultimate phase which leads to the slow process of healing. In fact, you are still far far away from being healed. You have just started recognizing what is actual and that you have to live the rest of your life with the truth.
Overcoming the five stages of grief is important for a person’s better mental health in future. If emotions remain suppressed the false expectations and hope never die which can later on, cause serious mental issues that can be damaging both physically and mentally. Hence mourning is not bad, it is not impractical; weaken yourself for the moment so that you can gain lot more strength in future.