Information and resources to consider to help you with the many details that must be seen to when someone dies.
Everyone is different and how you feel and when, can’t be predicted. Some emotions may be brief and some may last months or more. They may happen simultaneously, and you may repeat stages. There may even be some you don’t experience. These are the common emotions to loss that many people have, but there is no usual response to loss as there is no usual loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives.
You will never fully get over your loss. The stages of grief in the paragraphs to follow allow you to live with it and resume a functional and bearable existence.
You will survive. You will heal, even if you cannot believe that now, just know that it is true.
“This can’t be happening.” Shock and denial. This first stage of grieving is to deny the reality of your loss. Not accepting or even acknowledging it. It’s a survival reaction and works as a defense mechanism that blocks you from the immediate shock of your loss. It’s nature’s way of softening the blow, by slowly allowing you to accept this pain. Letting in only as much as you can handle. Nothing will make sense… nothing. You may feel numb and overwhelmed. You’ll question life and any beliefs you may have. You’ll wonder how you can go on, if you can go on, or even why you should go on. It’s common to not cry at this stage.
The numbness wears off and the reality and pain emerge. You won’t be ready. This anger is coming from your pain, and may be your strength. At first it may feel lost but then you will direct it, and it may feel like all you have to hang on to… and that’s better then nothing.
Anger has no limits. It may be aimed at inanimate objects, friends, family, strangers, doctors, God (Higher Power), and even the deceased loved one. You may feel guilty for your anger, which can make you more angry. Even though it may seem endless, the more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal.
The ‘”what if’s?” and “if only’s”.
You will do anything if only you could wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream. Begging, wishing, praying for them to come back. You may feel guilt and will likely find fault in yourself and your actions. Thinking, what could I or should I have done differently. You want to go back in time, stop it from happening. Even for just a minute, to bring your loved one back and stop this pain. At this stage your thoughts and actions are really just a temporary relief and distraction from your pain.
This stage feels as though it will last forever. When the loss of your loved one fully settles in your soul, grief will appear on a level deeper then you can imagine. Sadness like you’ve never felt. Feelings of emptiness, loneliness… despair.
Your sadness is understandable and an expected stage to your healing. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual.
It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is a legitimate response to your loss. Take the time you need and allow yourself to feel this sorrow. Don’t ‘get over it’ because others expect you to snap out of it.
Acceptance means accepting the reality that your loved one is gone and recognizing that being without them is now your permanent reality.
This is often confused with being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is no choice but to learn to live with it. You are not “OK” and will never be “all right” with the death of your loved one but in time you will accept it. You have to become stronger, and you will. You may not realize it, but you’ll start having more good days then bad. You may be able to remember your loved one fondly again without the pain of grief. You have to live your life without them… grow and evolve. Accept that your life is changed forever.
At times, people in grief will often report more stages. Just remember your grief is as unique as you are.