The concept of grief is often associated closely with death/loss of a loved one. However, grief can occur as a result of any kind of loss. Other types of loss can be: loss of a close friendship, loss of a pet, loss of a pregnancy, loss of health, loss of financial security/job, retirement, moving to a new state, letting go of a long-held dream, a break up/divorce, etc.
Loss is an inevitable part of life, and grief is a natural part of the healing process. The grieving process is not linear, and looks different for various cultures, communities, family systems, couples, and individuals.
Following a major loss, symptoms of grief can present as: feeling shock, extreme sadness, uncontrollable crying, impaired sleep, disturbed appetite, becoming easily triggered, reduced distress tolerance, and poor focus/concentration.
According to the Kübler-Ross model, individuals experiencing grief progress through these 5 stages of grief (DABDA):
Denial is a defense against the discomfort of the loss. In this stage, the individual may “feel fine” or refuse to address the reality of their loss.
In this stage the denial gradually becomes anger. “Why is this happening to me?” Anger is often just the tip of the iceberg, with a compilation of more intense emotions of loneliness, fear, anxiety, and sadness often beneath the surface.
This stage is where the individual may try to negotiate or attempt to sacrifice something in exchange for a different outcome. For example, negotiating with a higher power to sacrifice something in exchange for something else. Psychologically, the person may be trying to regain hope, faith, or even perceived control.
In this stage, you begin to feel the intense sadness, despair, or even disappointment you feel in regards to your loss and grief.
In this stage the individual accepts the reality of their circumstances. Acceptance does not always mean you agree with the loss or outcome of the loss- you recognize and acknowledge the loss.
Seeking support through counseling is an excellent way to help you process and cope with grief and loss. Call AWCC at (832) 421-8714 to set up an appointment to speak with a counselor.
Reference: Tyrrell P, Siddiqui W. Stages of Dying. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Mar-20.