Understanding and Coping With Grief

Dealing with the grief and loss that comes with losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult situations a person can face. It is an unfortunate reality that most people will have to deal with at least once in their lifetime. Losses of all kinds may leave a person grief-stricken and unsure of how to move on. This can often be difficult for people to overcome, but given proper grief and loss counseling, it is possible to recover and move on.

What Are the Types of Grief?

People can experience grief following any type of loss. It is a natural reaction to losing something that is near and dear to the heart, and can severely affect many people. Individuals can require help for their grief and loss following any type of separating event, including the following:

  • Loss of a Loved One – Whether from separation or death, losing a loved one in a permanent way can be a crippling, grief-inducing event that can result in years of potential problems.
  • Divorce – Losing someone we love because of their personal choice can be even more devastating than losing a loved one to death, and many individuals struggle with this type of event for years.
  • Loss of a Pet – Whether a pet dies or is physically lost, grief from losing such a close companion can be severe for animal lovers.
  • Job Loss – A job loss can bring up many types of grief, including feelings of inadequacy and lost friendships.
  • Loss of a Friendship – When a friend passes away or long-time friends part ways, it can trigger hopelessness in the same way that occurs following the death of a family member.

What Are the Stages of Grief?

Grief and loss causes individuals to cycle through many different feelings and emotions, a process which has long been known as the stages of grief. This process allows individuals to properly deal with and heal from a tragic loss when completed fully. The stages of grief include the following:

  • Denial – This stage also includes numbness and shock. It is when the mind puts up a protective barrier to help a person cope with the intensity of the loss. This stage can be helpful in the first days following a loss when difficult decisions must be made regarding funerals and the future. As a personal slowly accepts their new reality, the denial will diminish.
  • Bargaining – When individuals are in this stage of the grieving process, they may have persistent thoughts regarding how their grief and loss could have been prevented. They may also develop a preoccupation with how their lives could have been better had their loss never actually occurred. If an individual stays in this stage too long, it can significantly inhibit the healing process.
  • Depression – Once individuals come to terms with the reality of their loss, they can experience depression. Sometimes individuals can overcome this stage in a matter of days or weeks while for others, it lasts for months or longer. Signs of depression include appetite and sleep disturbances, poor concentration, low energy, and poor control over emotions. IN this stage, people often feel loneliness, isolation, emptiness and self-pity.
  • Anger – In a reaction to the powerlessness many people feel in the depression stage of grief, individuals often become angry. Additional sources of anger include abandonment, anger at a higher power, or toward life in general.
  • Acceptance – The final stage of grief occurs when an individual is finally able to come to terms with their loss. Once acceptance occurs, individuals can truly begin to heal and rebuild their lives and put their loss in the past.

Is Grief Always Experienced the Same for Everyone?

Despite these common stages, grief and loss can be different for everyone. Each individual is unique in how they handle these emotions and situations. No matter how short or long the grieving process lasts, with the help of grief and loss counseling, those who have endured a loss can find a new normal and learn to look again to the future with hope.