Losing someone or something you love can be very difficult. Sometimes it feels like the sadness will never go away. There is no right or wrong way to grieve; however, there are healthy ways to handle it rather than destructive. There is no “right amount of time” for grieving. It’s important to allow the grief process to unfold and to be patient.
In therapy, we will talk about the feelings surfacing and I will support you to work through the areas where you may feel “stuck” in grief. We will also cover the 5 stages of grief and I will teach you how to use these stages to grieve constructively.
Therapy for the 5 Stages of Grief (acronym DABDA)…
- DENIAL. You will probably respond to the loss with shock and numbness. This is normal. The denial protects you from being overwhelmed and may last for weeks.
- ANGER. You may notice yourself getting angry, at yourself, at God, at others. Anger is a normal part of grief.
- BARGAINING. Along with that comes bargaining. You may plead with God that you will stop drinking if the person could come back.
- DEPRESSION. Right about when other people expect you to be back to normal, a deep sadness may overtake you. You begin to realize that the loss is permanent and remember different things you did together and feel despair. If you have lost a spouse, just seeing their clothes hanging or car in the garage could be triggers that make you lie down and burst into tears. Even though depression is normal with grief, we will work in therapy to determine if it has gotten too severe and work to treat it.
- ACCEPTANCE. Your life begins to adapt to a new normal. You find new friends that bring comfort. You have routines that you can go about without the depression. You feel a sense of peace when you think of your loved one. Just a disclaimer about these stages. They do not go in any particular order. You may be depressed one day, angry the next, feel acceptance for awhile and then deny there was ever a loss. The key is to allow yourself to shuffle through the stages so that you can grieve in a healthy way.
As the shock wears off, you may feel deep sorrow and pain. Some people feel guilt that they may somehow have caused this to happen or remorse over what they did or didn’t do in the relationship. It is important to allow yourself to feel the pain and guilt and tell yourself it is normal and will pass. Do not avoid it or escape from it with drugs or alcohol.
You will start to look forward and actually plan things. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.