Grief is something that will touch all of our lives at one time or another. Over the next few blog entries I plan to give an overview of grief, and what to expect. I also hope to help answer the question “What could I do to help.”
First, what is grief?
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross first introduced the “five stages of grief” in 1969. The stages were based on her study of patients with terminal illness. Since we have really began to apply these to life as a whole, including loss of friends, marriages, family members, and even jobs.
The five stages of grief:
NOTE: It is important to know that the experience will not look the same. Some may linger on one phase longer than others, go back and forth, or skip a stage entirely. Depending on numerous factors, individuals will display grief in different ways.
Common symptoms of grief
Lastly, here are some notes from Helpguide.org’s article on Supporting a Grieving Person:
There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Grief does not always unfold in orderly, predictable stages. It can be an emotional roller coaster, with unpredictable highs, lows, and setbacks. Everyone grieves differently, so avoid telling the bereaved what he or she “should” be feeling or doing.
Grief may involve extreme emotions and behaviors. Feelings of guilt, anger, despair, and fear are common. A grieving person may yell to the heavens, obsess about the death, lash out at loved ones, or cry for hours on end. The bereaved need reassurance that what he or she feels is normal. Don’t judge them or take his or her grief reactions personally.
There is no set timetable for grieving. For many people, recovery after bereavement takes 18 to 24 months, but for others, the grieving process may be longer or shorter. Don’t pressure the bereaved to move on or make them feel like they’ve been grieving too long. This can actually slow the healing process.
Once you understand grief and what to look for, you can be in a position to help others, and ultimately yourself.
My next article will cover what grieving people need and how you can help.