The Phases of Grief
- Dealing With Grief
- Grief comes in many forms of loss. Loss of a loved one, a
relationship, a family pet, a job, one's health or independence,
even one's own freedom. And dealing with loss comes in many forms,
from depression to denial or more serious reactions. We all have
a way of dealing with every day grief, but I think everyone would
agree that prolonged grief is never a good idea. Understanding
the phases of grief can help us work through it and over come
it's long lasting effects.
- This article is by no means covering anything new, nor is
it meant to replace professional help for those who need it.
But perhaps it can give a spiritual perspective for pagans for
how to handle grief and recover hope.
- The Phases of Grief
- Of course, there are as many ways to dealing with grief as
there are people on the planet. There's no wrong way to the way
you grieve. Even if others say you're not reacting the way people
expect you to react. How is someone expected to react, what is
the pre-formed package of emotion we're supposed to feel? Well
there isn't one. So first thing to know is that your feelings
are normal, even if they're just normal for you.
- But in every reaction there is a pattern or phase of grief
that is universal. Understanding these different phases can help
you understand where you are in the grieving process and maybe
even help you move toward healing. These are similar to the stages
of dealing with issues in your life; Acknowledgment, Acceptance,
Forgiveness, Action and Letting Go. But when dealing with
grief, we may approach these stages a little differently or in
more detailed stages. From a psychological perspective there
are several stages of grief. What I'm going to list here is based
on my own personal experiences, as well as, my experiences from
spiritual counseling over the years. These are by no means the
one and only approaches to dealing with grief. So you may want
to read the views and information of others to find the philosophy
that best fits your own situation.
Shock / Acknowledgement
Shock is often the first stage of grief. It is accompanies with
disbelief or not wanting to acknowledge the loss.
Denial / Acceptance
Not wanting to accept that the loss has occurred is very common
and follows quickly on the heals of shock. "I don't believe
it" or "No, this can't be happening" are very
common thoughts during this phase.
Some people may find themselves bartering with the Divine forces
in their life to change things. "I'll do this if you'll
only take this away" or "I'll do that if you'll only
bring them back to me". Asking to be forgiven for something
you did or didn't do so that this loss wouldn't have occurred
is not a desperate plea. It's merely a stage of asking for help
to handle the loss.
Depression often comes and goes through out all stages of grief.
But it maybe exceptionally difficult in the early stages when
you're begging the Divine for help and your prayers seem to go
unanswered. Everyone knows depression is part of accepting loss,
but when it occurs we seem to get angry at ourselves for feeling
depressed. Just remember that everyone needs time to cry, feel
sad or lonely and feel the loss they've experienced. Without
giving yourself time to be sad, you're not able to release and
heal the emotions that have been opened.
At some point everyone gets angry after a loss. "How could
they do this and leave me here..", or "How could they
leave me to deal with all this.." are common approaches
when dealing with a passing or end of a close relationship.
Guilt / Forgiveness
- Followed closely on the heals of begging for help, comes
guilt. Especially with Divine prayers go unanswered. It's common
for people to start blaming themselves for what has occurred.
"If only I had done this..", "If only I had not
done that.." are the usual feelings. Especially if the loss
is something you think you could have controlled, such as being
laid off from a job, a relationship or a suicide.
- But it's important to remember that there are always things
going on in the background of these situations that you cannot
control, no matter how hard you try to convince yourself otherwise.
Remembering you're only human and reminding yourself you gave
your best or did your best in the situation. If your loss comes
from the result of a suicide, you must remember that the person
who passed made their choice on their own and the resulting passing
was their responsibility.
- About now is when you can look for forgiveness, in yourself
and in the person or people who have shared this loss. If you
were laid off for instance, you boss may not have had any choice
in who or when layoffs happened to. There are often bigger reasons
behind those decisions and he/she may have no control over those.
- If your loss was a suicide, you weren't the only one who
didn't catch the signs. And in truth some people who commit suicide
are very good about hiding the signs and no one may have noticed.
You did the best you could and that's all anyone can do. You
are not accountable for what this person has done. But you may
need to look at forgiving them as well. Forgive them for not
reaching out when they could have, for not coming right out and
telling those who loved them what was wrong and why they were
so depressed as to take such a drastic action.
- Forgiveness comes in many forms and for many reasons. Each
situation is going to be different. And each person is going
to have specific details from their own perspectives about what
has occurred. You just have to focus on you and what you feel
to find the issues that may need an act of compassion and forgiveness.
Especially when you need to forgive yourself.
Hope / Action and Letting Go
- The forgiveness, action and letting go are the hard parts
to dealing with any loss. But through inner reflection, counseling
and meditation, you can learn to forgive and let go. Sometimes
forgiving and letting go on a spiritual level can help you release
the pain and emotional hurt you feel on a physical level as well.
Through all this you can rediscover hope.
- Sometimes sitting down and trying to meditate is the last
thing you want to do. But remember, the physical loss of someone
or something doesn't mean you can't communicate on a spiritual
level. Especially if your loss deals with the passing of a loved
one or even your family pet. You may not communicate in the same
way as when they were alive, but in some cases you might be able
to communicate better.
- If your loss deals with a close or intimate relationship,
your spiritual communication can be a way to speak your mind,
say what you have to say and get it out in the open so you can
let it go and move on. If your relationship was abusive this
might be the best way to lay the baggage heaped on you back on
the doorstep of your abuser where it belongs.
- You might like to try our Letting
Go mediation to help through these phases. As well as, Evolving
the Spirit through Affirmations. If
you're dealing with a loss that involves some type of abuse or
being a victim, you might also want to read the Victimization
article as well. This article is expanded in my Ph.D. Doctoral
Dissertation - Spiritual
Psychology and Dealing With Grief (PDF)
Sources: 1, b1,