Grief: What is it?
Do you feel as if your grief will never end? That your loss is a continual source of sorrow? Moving through the grief process takes time and commitment to stay the course until healing occurs. Working through your grief is not easy, it is often the hardest thing you will ever do. But God has a plan for you during your season of sorrow. He will bring comfort in your pain and give you the strength to preserve.
Grief work involves a step-by-step process through which a grieving person walks in order to reach a place of emotional healing.
Healthy grief work will culminate in:
- Accepting that the past will always be in the past
- Accepting that the present can offer stability
- Accepting that the future can hold new and promising hope.
Grief is common in our broken world. When you face a significant loss in your life, it is natural to feel heartache and to mourn. But in your grief, God is near. He sees your pain, understands it, and walks with you every step of the way. God’s Word shows you that you don’t grieve without purpose or without His presence.
When coping with the loss, for example of a loved one — whether a friend, family member, co-worker or pet – grief is an inevitable human emotion. The Kübler-Ross model of grief, also known as the five stages of grief, includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. One is encouraged not to judge her or himself too harshly if they get stuck in a stage of grief, since everyone moves through these stages at their own pace.
- The Denial Stage, during which people have a hard time facing the reality of the loss or potential loss (disbelief) and may temporarily block out the reality of their situation, either partially or entirely.
- The Anger Stage evolves next and pain begins to set in. An individual may become angry with the person for leaving them, or angry at themselves for not being able to stop the death or loss from happening altogether, or angry with God for allowing the loss to happen.
- The Bargaining Stage results in a sort of negotiation such as “I’ll do this if I or my loved one can have more time.” In the loss of a relationship bargaining might look like a request to remain friends or keep some consistency of contact.
- The Depression Stage may involve the individual feeling overcome by sadness, fear, hopelessness, and more as the finality of the loss sets in. This can result in isolation and withdrawal from others and activities. Depression medications may be recommended by your medical professional for a period of time, depending upon the depth of the depression.
- The Acceptance Stage is the final phase, where one has accepted the reality of what happened, resolved that they and life are going to be all right and that things will work out (or move forward) somehow. At this point in the grieving process, many people discover that the future may still offer a rewarding quality of life even though it has changed, and that they have developed the resilience to live forward. In essence, she or he has accepted that life has changed and will never be what it was, but that that a rich, full, and fulfilled life is still possible.
Grief and loss are not limited to the death of a loved one or a relationship. It can include the loss of a job, financial setback, the onset of a disease or loss of some physical ability where life will be different from now on, moving to a new location leaving behind all the familiar people and places, the finality of the loss of a significant life dream or goal, and more.
Learning to cope with the variety of emotions experienced through these stages helps a person to better process the inevitable loss. If you are in one of these stages, we strongly encourage you to seek professional help. Psychotherapy can assist you in processing these stages more quickly, and potentially with less distress than going it alone, as well as help you reach your own version of acceptance to be able to move forward with your life in a healthy way.