Grief is something that will affect us all at some point in our life.
What is grief?
Grief is a natural and complex emotion that comes up when we experience the loss of someone or something significant in our lives. It is a universal experience triggered by various things from the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or the loss of a job. It can even be triggered by a significant change in life circumstances.
While grief is a universal thing, the way people grieve is utterly unique to the individual person. No two people will grieve in the same way. However, one thing that does seem to be universal is the fact that it cannot be rushed or easily fixed. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Each person’s experience will be individual to them.
As a rule, there are five stages to grief - but these will not be felt in a specific order or at a specific time. There may be some overlap between the stages…and some stages may not show up at all!
Denial - Difficulty in accepting the reality of the loss. You may feel numb or in shock.
Anger - As the reality of the loss sets in, you may start feeling angry or resentful. You may even feel frustrated about the situation. The anger can be directed at other people, the person who died, your “god” or any number of things.
Bargaining - This is where you seek to change the situation. You may speak with a higher power. Whatever you do though, you are trying to make the thing that happened…not to have happened.
Depression - It’s almost inevitable that you experience feelings of deep sadness, loneliness, and despair during this time.
Acceptance - Eventually you will come to accept the reality of the loss and hopefully will find ways to move forward.
The Positive Side Of Grief
Once the acceptance stage has happened there are many positive things that can happen. Again, it must be remembered that there is no rush for this stage. It also needs to be remembered that by moving on to the acceptance stage in no way diminishes the memory of the person and nor is it in any way disrespectful to them.
Ways you could find a positive side to grief:
Bucket List - Being reminded of your own mortality can be a bit of a wake up call. Maybe now is the time to do something you’ve always wanted to do?
Charity - If your grief was brought on by an illness (cancer for example) or maybe a mental health issue which led to suicide, perhaps you could volunteer some time to raise awareness for a relevant charity. Or you could even start your own charity.
Family & Friends - Maybe you feel you have neglected those closest to you and the loss you’ve experienced has opened your eyes to the things that really matter to you.
Increased Awareness - By going through the grieving process you awareness of what brought it on will be increased, so you can use this to inform and educate others which in turn will help others.
Gratitude - I remember when my best friend at school took his own life I struggled to find things to be grateful for, but as time has gone on I realise the importance of being grateful. Be grateful for everything, no matter how big or small. I even try to be grateful for the things that go wrong in my life as there’s normally a lesson to learn.
Make The Most Of Each Day - My grandma’s last words to me were “Do as much as you can” - in other words, fill each day with amazing things. Fill your days with as many happy memories as you can.
No one is going to come to your funeral and say that you had really nice shoes, or a nice car, or an awesome home. But they will remember you for the things you did (or didn’t do) and the things you said. Make each day count and try and turn your much needed grief into something positive that will not only help you move forward, but will help others in turn. Always remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and there is no time frame either. But also keep in mind that moving forward from your grief is in no way disrespectful to the person or situation you were grieving about.