Overcoming grief isn’t the goal. Learning to live with grief is.
Far too often, many people think that overcoming grief is the only way to achieve happiness. In reality, the grief will stick with us forever. We just have to learn how to live with it in a healthy way.
Here’s a simple way to understand grief. Think of it as a little dot in the centre of the circle around your life; around which you are slowly but surely drawing more and more circles. This little dot never budges; it’s never really gone. But you’re so focussed on the bigger circles that it pales in comparison. And that’s learning how to live with grief.
Although grief is often categorised into five stages, these stages are non-linear. Not everyone will experience them in the same order, and not everyone will experience each of these stages.
Let’s take a look at the different stages of grief:
After a traumatic incident, it’s common for people to be taken aback and have difficulty accepting the news. As a result of the sudden and immense shock, they live in denial for a period of time. In the moment, it may seem easier to avoid the whole thing. As humans, we resist change, but sooner or later, we must realise that change is inevitable in life.
For some, learning news about the loss instantly bridges anger. For others, the anger only comes after the stage of denial where they begin to realise the reality of the situation.
When one reaches this stage, they begin to make deals with themself or most often, with God. Bargaining can sound like “God, if you heal my mum from cancer, I’ll give up drinking alcohol for the rest of my life.”
People often start reflecting on life and changing their perspective at this stage. They make a deal with themselves and/or God to never take things or people for granted again.
Depression is usually the stage that is most discussed as it is one of the toughest to get past. Most people don’t skip this stage although the duration varies from person to person. It can stretch from days to years or even decades at times.
Upon realising that there is still meaning to life despite what happened, the person is then able to move on with a new sense of purpose.
The phrase ‘life goes on” is what some adopt to try and get back up on their feet.
The stage of acceptance is often the most confusing stage. Some days you feel like you’re over the grief and then the very next day, it all comes back. The memories, the intense pain and all of the questioning. Slowly but surely, however, you begin to accept reality and begin to believe that things will get better and the good days will out-number the bad.
Besides the stages mentioned above, grief can also be categorised based on an individual’s experience.
Uncomplicated Grief is one that is expected when a person experiences a loss. The process involves movement towards integrated grief over time, with some periods of acute grief. The person still mourns the loss, and at times this can be intense and painful. As time passes, they are able to participate in the normal activities of life again.
On the other hand, experiencing Complicated Grief can be summarised as a disabling condition in which a person is limited in their functioning of everyday life. Mental health professionals use tools to determine if someone is experiencing complicated grief as the diagnosis is not always clear-cut.
If you’re struggling with grief of any type and you’re on the lookout for a licensed professional to help you cope better, we have a team of experts to help you.
Check out our website www.incontact.com.sg to book your appointment today!
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