Moving Beyond Grief
By Marcia Overstreet, LPC
One thing about grief we can count on is this – it is a continual process involving many changes. The stages of grief according to Dr. Elizabeth Kubler Ross are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The stages tend to be “loopy” rather than linear. Various emotions may appear, disappear, and then come again. Stages may overlap and be revisited as often as needed to process the many intense and complex feelings we experience. We typically expect grief after a loss but often we are unprepared for the intensity and duration of feelings. Understanding the process is helpful to putting these feelings into an informed and appropriate context. Knowing what the process entails helps to normalize emotions that may feel “crazy” and gives the sense that we are not alone. Our grief is our very own but we share the pain of loss with all of humanity.
Loss is inevitable and ever present in our lives, and comes in many forms. Each loss deserves to be acknowledged and grieved. I believe many individuals do not recognize the importance of giving time, acknowledgment, and expression to all losses.
None of us grieves in exactly the same way but there are phases that most of us tend to experience - in our own path to healing. There is no set time frame for grief; it takes as long as it needs to. How we experience loss is dependent on many factors. Someone once said, “Grief takes us where it will, where we need to go for our healing to take place.”
I do not believe society in general has had realistic expectations for individuals who are grieving. For too long the process has been rushed and avoided, making the process that much more difficult for those trying to work through it.
In your process you may reach some telling milestones, which may be: when you think and/speak of your loved one with joy rather than anguish, when you find yourself laughing again, when you no longer feel guilty, and when you start making plans for yourself and your future (reinvesting in life).
If you are grieving please be kind to yourself, tell your story as often as you need to, be with your pain, experience it, and give yourself all the time you need. If you feel you are stuck in the pain of loss, please contact a professional who can assist you to move through your process again.
Ten Commandments for the Bereaved
1. Take time to accept your loss.
2. Be with your pain (accept the pain).
3. Know that you will survive and you are not alone.
4. Keep decision-making to a minimum.
5. Give yourself time to heal
6. Get plenty of rest and eat as well as possible.
7. Stick to your schedule to maintain a sense of order.
8. Heal at your own pace.
10. Be gentle with yourself.
Written By: Marcia Overstreet
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