Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Five (Seven) Stages of Grief (July 21, 2009)

(posted to Facebook, July 21, 2009)

I can never remember the five stages of grief. So I googled it. "Stages of grievin." lol. However, because I did not include "five" within my search criteria, Google placed a different result closer to the top... "7 Stages of Grief."

Seven? How can there be seven? It's five. How can there be seven?

I keep typing "Greig" instead of "grief."

The Seven Stages of Grief, as according to

It is important to interpret the stages loosely, because of individual variation. There is no neat progression, but instead there may be backtracking, simultaneous stages, or skipping. However, stage models are useful as a general guide of what to expect.

Stage One - Shock and Denial
Numbed disbelief and some level of denial is a method of trying to avoid pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed.

Stage Two - Pain and Guilt
Although it may be unbearable, it is important that it is allowed to be experienced fully. Feelings of guilt may also be present, because of regretting something done or not done.

Stage Three - Anger and Bargaining
Frustration and placing blame on something or someone else often follows feelings of regret. Release bottled-up emotion, but do not lash out, as relationships may be damaged. Frustration and blame are often accompanied by bargaining with powers beyond control.

Stage Four - "Depression", Reflection, Loneliness
A longer period of sad reflection. This is a normal stage, so do not try to skip it or avoid the feelings of emptiness and despair that may present themselves to you as you isolate yourself and reflect.

Stage Five - The Upward Turn
As you adjust, life becomes calmer and more organized and the feelings of solemness begin to lift.

Stage Six - Reconstruction and Working Through
As life continues to begin functioning again, realistic solutions will be sought. Practical problems begin to be worked through.

Stage Seven - Acceptance and Hope
Acceptance does not mean happiness. "Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward. You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your [loss] without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone."

First off, stage four? Is depression now so taboo that we must put it in quotation marks in order to take some of the weight off of its stigma? I read somewhere in another article that there's nothing wrong with experiencing depression or feeling depressed. The problem begins when that depression becomes the norm, when feeling depressed turns into being depressed.

I like how this stage theory sets it up as more of a process and includes transition stages of "The Upward Turn" and "Reconstruction and Working Through."

The Five Stages of Grief, as according to

Stage One - Denial
No crying, no acceptance, no acknowledgment of the loss.

Stage Two - Anger
Wanting to fight back and blame the other person.

Stage Three - Bargaining
Attempting to make deals to stop or change the loss.

Stage Four - Depression
Overwhelming hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self-pity, and mourning. Feeling like you lack control. Possible numbness.

Stage Five - Acceptance
Acceptance is different from resignation. Acceptance includes finding the good in the pain, learning from the situation, and finding comfort and healing. The goal turns to personal growth.

"Get help. You will survive. You will heal, even if you cannot believe that now, just know that it is true. To feel pain after loss is normal. It proves that we are alive, human. But we can't stop living. We have to become stronger, while not shutting off our feelings for the hope of one day being healed and finding love and/or happiness again. Helping others through something we have experienced is a wonderful way to facilitate our healing and bring good out of something tragic."

I included the last paragraph quote from the site because I really liked how they worded everything. I know for a fact that something that feels like the end of a world today will seem largely insignificant (in terms of pain) later down the road. While the experience will be important in terms of learning and actual experience and learning, what you honestly believed to be the breaking of your heart will seem mostly superficial. Does that mean it really was only superficial? Certainly not. You simply learned from it and were able to move on. I know that it may feel like the end of a world right now, but tomorrow (however long it may take for tomorrow to arrive), you will be okay.

Erm, I need to be a writer, guys. Really.

Feeling pain is normal. It proves that we are alive, human. This sentiment reminds me of one of the few good yg sermons. We are human: created to be needed and created to be needy. Not only so, but we also need to be needed. When one such human relationship ends, whether because of the failure of the relationship or events beyond our realm of control, we hurt because the thing that satisfied our need-needs has escaped us. Sure, there are other relationships (relationship being used loosely to include family and friends), but the total number of all relationships does not make the loss of one any less significant.

Really, I need to be a writer.

The quoted paragraph also touches on the fact that we should not cower from pain or avoid it to the extreme. Avoiding pain ultimately means avoiding places where pain is possible, which ultimately means avoiding any kind of deep relationship. This avoidance of pain leads to the need-needs remaining unsatisfied. No one can continue as such. Yes, I know, there must also be a balance. While one should not avoid pain at all costs, one should also not seek after every relationship simply for the sake of fulfilling the need-needs. Balance, balance, balance, kids. Do not make non-excellent mistakes.

Lastly, the quoted paragraph mentions our ability to ease the pain of others by using our own experiences of pain. In selflessly focusing on the well-being of those around us, our own soul becomes whole. Sounding new age-y? No, sounding like a Wounded Healer(c).

I had more to say, but I forgot. Props to you if you honestly read this far.

Oh, no, I'm done writing, but I wanted to lay out the two stage models for a side-by-side comparison.

Denial - - - - - - - - - - - - Shock and Denial
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Pain and Guilt
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Anger and Bargaining
Depression - - - - - - - - - Depression, Reflection, Loneliness
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The Upward Turn
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Reconstruction and Working Through
Acceptance - - - - - - - - - Acceptance and Hope

I hope all y'all can understand that as well as I can.


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