The 5 stages of grief


In today's newsletter, I will talk about the stages of grief. I will present you in detail each phase and explain how to overcome them.

Hey Friends ❤️,

I recently lost a very dear family member and that's why I decided to write this article, because it's really hard to get over this loss without leaving any after effects.

I would like, through this article, that each of us can understand the different phases of grief, so that we can better manage it and not let ourselves be carried away by these feelings.

Grief is the psychological process that we face after loss, something that we all, sooner or later, will experience throughout life.

By definition, the loss of any attachment object causes grief, although the intensity and characteristics of grief can vary considerably depending on the degree of emotional attachment to the object, the nature of the loss itself, and the way in which it arises from each person's previous being and history.

Although mourning is immediately associated with death, losses can be very diverse: couple breakups, changes of address, changes in professional status, disease processes or functional decline, among others.

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The phases of grief

Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identifies five stages that occur, to a greater or lesser degree, whenever we experience loss. Although they can occur successively, they do not always have to be so. Each process, like each person, is unique.

1. Denial

Denial is a very common reaction that occurs immediately after a loss. It is not uncommon that when we experience a sudden loss, we have a feeling of unreality or disbelief that can be accompanied by a freezing of emotions.

It can be manifested with expressions such as: "I still don't believe it's true", "it's as if I were living a nightmare" and even with attitudes of apparent "emotional integrity" or acting "as if nothing had happened".

The denial can be more subtle and appear in a diffuse or abstract way, downplaying the seriousness of the loss or not assuming that it is irreversible, when in many cases it is.

2. Anger

Often the first contact with emotions after denial can be in the form of anger. Feelings of frustration and helplessness are activated that can end up in attributing the responsibility of an irremediable loss to a third party. In extreme cases, people cannot grieve because they are trapped in a continuous claim that prevents them from adequately saying goodbye to the loved one.

3. Negotiation

In the negotiation phase, you begin to contact the reality of the loss while you begin to explore what things to do to reverse the situation.

For example, when someone is diagnosed with a terminal illness and begins to explore treatment options despite having been informed that there is no possible cure, or who believes that they will be able to recover an already broken relationship if they start behaving in another way.

4. Depression

As the grieving process progresses and the reality of the loss is assumed, one begins to contact what the absence implies emotionally, which manifests itself in various ways: sorrow, nostalgia, a tendency to social isolation and loss of interest.

Although this phase is called "depression", it would be more correct to call it "grief" or "sadness", thus losing the connotation that it is something pathological. Somehow, only grieving the loss can begin the path to continue living despite it.

5. Acceptance

It supposes the arrival of a state of calm associated with the understanding, not only rational but also emotional, that death and other losses are phenomena inherent to human life.

The metaphor of a wound that ends up healing could be applied, which does not imply stopping remembering, but rather being able to continue living with it.

Although grief is a personal process, its social aspect is also important. All cultures have been developing ways of channeling that pain through community ties (sharing pain with others) and with symbolic elaborations that often give a transcendent meaning to loss.

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When to ask for specialized help

Grief is part of life and, therefore, it is important not to pathologize it. However, sometimes it can end up getting complicated, so that the person is trapped in that pain that prevents him from moving forward.

It can occur in many ways:

  1. intense or chronic depressive symptoms;
  2. behaviors of flight from the emotions that grief generates through the use of alcohol or other drugs;
  3. reappearance in a present, loss of emotions and feelings of unresolved grief in the past;
  4. presence of fantasies of reuniting with the loved one, seeking death passively or actively.

When grief becomes complicated, it is important to ask for help from the environment and, if necessary, seek the help of mental health professionals.

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