Grief is a journey without a clear direction. The experience of grieving cannot be ordered, categorized or controlled. One can compare it to inevitable breathing. When we lose something, even minute things, it changes our world. And we have to adapt to that said loss. With any major grief, it literally breaks our hearts. Grief most often comes in waves of emotion.
It is a process and it is unique for each individual. For most people, the suffering never ends; it just becomes less severe and easier. For some people, it does not take long before the suffering eases and for some it takes years. Due to its complex nature, it is difficult to pinpoint what “healthy” grief looks like. If the level of grief matches the level of loss, it is generally considered to be an appropriate response. Everyone experiences grief differently and at different times.
Here are the most common emotions experienced by the individuals in grief:
- Denial and isolation: The first natural response to loss is denial. At this stage, people are aware of the facts, but are still in a denial stage of grief. In other words, they tend to ignore the obvious because their mind is not ready to accept the reality yet. The mechanism of denial itself creates a mental block for those thoughts that really bother or hurt the suffering person.
- Anger: As the isolation fades out, denial gets replaced by anger. The individual becomes frustrated, especially at proximate individuals.
- Guilt: Once the anger subsides, the person starts feeling guilty for becoming angry.
- Bargaining: At a point while grieving, a realization hits that there is nothing under one’s control. The grieving person then starts bargaining. They will use anything valuable against another human agency to extend or prolong the life. Bargaining is often accompanied in the form of a prayer, “God, don’t let this be true, take it away, and I will never sin again”.
- Pain: When bargaining fails, the grieving person feels anguished. The mental agony is intense.
- Depression: The person in grief becomes apathetic towards the entire situation. He/she feels extremely sad and empty. In this state, the individual may become silent, lose hope, and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.
- Acceptance: Eventually, the person comes to terms with the situation and the feelings towards it. Acceptance is the last stage in the grieving phase. It comes with a calm, retrospective view of the individual, and a stable condition of emotions.
In essence, what we conclude helps us to find our place in the scheme of things, establish what is true, and gives us a sense of control over living with the loss.