Loss is awful.
Your heart stops.
You get flooded.
Reality kicks in.
The anguish is real!
Everyone has their own struggles to grapple with.
There are all different types of loss and various feelings about the person or thing you’ve lost – or are losing. Is it easier if you know in advance or if it happens suddenly? Is it less painful if you had a good relationship or a difficult relationship? Is grief any less if you lose your career versus a loved one?
There are no right or wrong answers. As humans, our primary function is connection and when we lose someone or something we have a deep connection to, we feel emotions. There is no way around it.
The most common question is “Am I ever going to heal?”
Everyone has a different way of mourning. Some people feel like they may NEVER recover. Others seem to get over it quickly. Either way, everyone goes through similar stages of grief as it pertains to their own story. These are commonly known as the 5 or 7 stages of grief – and we prefer the 7.
Grief is complex and doesn’t always feel like a linear process though. In fact, it can feel like a complete, hopeless spiral at times as your trauma responses are dipping in and out. Being able to identify which stage you are in lets you give yourself PERMISSION to feel what you need to feel and know that it’s OK, truly. So, let’s dive in…
The 7 Stages of Grief & Loss
SHOCK & DENIAL – This is a typical first response. It includes feelings of shock, panic, paralysis, numbness, and disbelief. You are fleeing reality, like “this isn’t happening!” This denial response is natural because it gives you time to absorb the shock of the news.
PAIN & GUILT – This stage includes unbearable emotional pain and even physical manifestations of the pain such as chest tightness and overall tension throughout the body. The guilt may be self-focused or feel selfish with thoughts like “How dare they do this to me!” or “I screwed up and can never forgive myself!” It’s imperative to not detach from the conflicting feelings in this stage and to not get stuck within them as well.
ANGER & BARGAINING – Bargaining is a way to attempt to regain control of an uncontrollable situation, like “I’d give anything to have one more day!” And, getting mad and letting yourself feel this emotion fully is all part of the grieving process. We have a right to get angry when we are hurt and it’s completely normal to have anger towards the situation, the past, the future, yourself, and everything and everyone involved. Don’t try to block the anger, but do try to obverse it and own it – YOU’RE ALLOWED.
DEPRESSION – Depression can be difficult and messy. It can feel overwhelming, lonely, hopeless, like “I don’t know when this will end.” You may want to isolate and sleep for two weeks because grief is exhausting and it’s normal to want to hide. Our bodies have an instinct to hibernate when needed for survival. This is a very hard part of the process, but giving yourself the rest and space, you need is important to reset your nervous system. However, if you feel stuck here or can’t seem to move past this stage, it’s time to consider support from a therapist.
THE UPWARD TURN – Out of nowhere, the intense feelings begin to lift – slowly or suddenly! It may catch you by surprise how swiftly you start to feel a bit lighter. Maybe that is why the phrase is coined “out of the blue!” You begin to get more energy back and tasks don’t feel quite as daunting. It feels like you can handle the day-to-day shenanigans again. There is light at the end of the tunnel and you think “maybe I can learn to love again.”
RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH – At this stage you may be able to find some silver linings. For example, what was the message or lesson to take away from that person or experience and how can you embrace the growth moving forward, such as “I need to continue to listen to my gut and speak up for myself.” On a daily basis, this may look like getting back into routines, reaching out to people, setting personal goals again, and picking back up with the forward trajectory of life. If this process of getting back on the horse feels difficult, it’s a really good time to consult with a therapist.
ACCEPTANCE & HOPE – “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can come together.” Acceptance doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten, just that you’ve found peace in the story and have come to understand what it means in your life now. You can cherish the life lessons learned and have gratitude and positive thoughts for the future.
Our goal at Claibourne is to help you navigate your journey.
We will work together to connect, learn, and identify with each feeling and meaning for you. We will help you understand your story on a logical, emotional, and physical level so your body actually feels and responds on par with what your logical brain understands. Our process will give you acceptance of what has unfolded and the ability to embrace all of the lessons it offers.
There is no event that we experience in life that doesn’t hold a positive meaning for us – if we choose to look for it. Even with the worst losses, there are deep messages that you can tap into and fully receive the benefits of that painful lesson. It’s a challenging process to do the work but it’s critical.
This process of healing is different for everyone, but we are here to support you through it! (480) 485-8824.