What Are the Stages of Grief

Knowing what to expect with the stages of grief can help you recover after losing a loved one. When you are experiencing any of the stages of grief, try to understand your emotions for what they are, and strive to move forward day by day until you reach the last stage, which is acceptance.

For some people, grief never grows old. These individuals have not been able to accept grief and move through the stages. In order to get on with their lives, they may require grief counseling. Coping with grief is not an easy task, but eventually each of us is able to accept. But, even though we accept, we may still feel an acute sense of devastation when our thoughts center on our lost loved one. This type of emotion is perfectly normal.

The Stages Of Grief
Though some people will experience all of the following stages of grief, they may not experience them in the same order. That's perfectly normal. Each person will handle grief in the manner that's easiest for them. While it may seem to take forever to come to grips with life again after we have experienced grief, we need to understand that eventually we will be able to move on with our lives.

The five most common stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance, but some people experience additional stages.

1. Shock And Denial. When we lose someone, especially when that loss is sudden, we are automatically shocked. We may be so shocked that we actually slip into some form of denial. "It doesn't seem real that she is gone" or "she can't be gone."

2. Emotional Release. Emotional release may be brief, or it may last for days. What happens during this time is that your body released the pent-up emotion, and you suddenly realize that it actually feels better to express your emotions than to keep them bottled up.

3. Illness. Your body may suddenly betray you by showing signs of an illness that isn't there. You may even begin to exhibit signs of the same distressing illness your loved one died from. Rest assured that it is usually just your body expressing loss in the only way it knows how. However, never assume. Seek medical consultation if you feel you are truly ill.

4. Anger. It's quite common to feel anger toward those you perceive caused the loss.

5. Guilt And Bargaining. Guilt is a powerful emotion. You may begin to experience memories in which you were unkind or wronged the deceased individual. You may even offer yourself up in place of the deceased. But, whether guilt is misplaced or not, it often helps to talk to a professional counselor about your feelings in order to find acceptance with yourself again.

6. Panic. You may begin to experience difficulty concentrating and feel that you have begun forgetting things. Panic attacks can be very real. See medical attention if necessary.

7. Loneliness And Depression. Falling into depression is a common symptom when you're going through the grieving process. Symptoms include feelings of not caring and no longer exhibiting the desire to do things that used to make you happy. This is a normal feeling and will pass. If it doesn't, seek medical counseling.

8. Withdrawal. This is the inability to move on. Even simple day-to-day activities can begin to feel like huge undertakings.

9. Readjustment. Readjusting to society and to the life you led prior to your loss can be a very high hurdle to climb over, but slowly you will find that new relationships will begin to form.

10. Acceptance. Your new reality involves acceptance. It may also include episodes of deep loneliness, depression and/or guilt as you learn to adjust to the world around you without the deceased. Feelings of pain and loss will undoubtedly resurface from time to time, but they will become fewer and fewer and the intense pain subsides.

Sometimes grief takes a long time to overcome, and solutions that work for one person may not work for the next person. But, if any of these symptoms continue for too long, it's important that you seek medical counsel for your own well-being.

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