Coping with Grief
Tanisha Tonpe | June 21, 2022
Grief is a horrible emotion that unfortunately, we all experience. Whether it is from losing a loved one or yourself, it can overwhelm people enough to ruin their whole lives. When experiencing grief, there are theorized to be 5 main stages. Starting with denial, then anger, bargaining, depression, and ending with acceptance.
Denial is the first stage of this process. The loss you experience is so great and overwhelming, the only way you can deal with it is by diminishing it. This can appear in many forms. Some people pretend the loss never happened. They continue their daily routines thinking their loved one is going to come home soon. Others may think it's a mistake. Maybe the doctors just read the charts wrong. Regardless, denial slows down the emotion you feel so you don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of emotions.
Anger is the second stage and can often be the most harmful. It is used as an emotional outlet after experiencing loss. It can cause people to lash out at others. This often can leave people who just experienced loss looking approachable. It can cause people to become severely isolated in moments where they desperately need social connections.
Bargaining is the third stage of grief. When trying to cope with loss, you may feel like you would do anything to go back and prevent it. Oftentimes, bargaining is in the form of promises to high beings such as god. For example, saying “God, I will be a better person if you heal them.” is a form of bargaining. During this stage, you look at yourself and your own faults. You may feel like something you did contributed to your loss and if you fix that, the higher being will prevent the loss.
Depression is the fourth stage in which you face the reality of the situation. You may realize that the bargaining is not doing anything and are forced to look at what is really happening. You can no longer avoid the loss you faced and are just left with sadness. This can often result in isolation even when you need help.
Acceptance is the final stage of grief. You will still feel the loss you experienced, but also no longer deny your emotions. Although, it is not an absolute ending to your grief. You may believe you have moved on but a certain date or song could cause your emotions to come flooding back. The difference is that you have already experienced the cycle and now know how to healthily cope with it and have hopefully built a support system as well.
In the end, this is just a theory. There is no real order or definite stages one goes through. Grief can be different for everyone who experiences it and there is no solid way to get through it. If anyone around you is experiencing grief, make sure to let them know you are there for them and try your best to guide them to a mental health professional.