Five Stages of Grief, Part 2


Bargaining-Sometimes a certain amount of bargaining comes before the loss-'Please God, I'll never yell at him again if you'll let him live.' After the loss, bargaining often takes the form of promises, 'what ifs' and 'if onlys'. 'God, if I promise to go to church more often and be a better person, can you make him come back to me?' 'What if I hadn't called her to pick me up? She wouldn't have been on the road and wouldn't have gotten hit.''If only I hadn't said 'no' so many times.' 'if only I'd gotten him to the doctor sooner.' Again, these aren't always rational questions. In fact, they often have nothing at all to do with what happened. However, they do a lot for helping us understand that sometimes things happen that we have no control over or that we can't rewrite the past. All we can do is learn from it (if there's anything to learn) and move on.

Depression-This is the sadness, the yearning, the worry. While we know in our heads that there is a world out there beyond what we're dealing with and that it won't last forever, it's really difficult to see past our own pain. If I sound like I know what I'm talking about, it's because I do. After the death of my mother my last year of college, I almost didn't graduate because there were some days missed a class because I couldn't get out of bed. Lucky for me, the professor understood and passed me; otherwise, I'd have been one credit shy of my requirement. One lousy credit! But it didn't matter, because at this stage nothing except your sadness seems to matter. It's important to go through this stage, though, because it forces you to deal with what you're feeling and work through it.

Finally, there is:

Acceptance-While you may never truly be 'okay' with whatever happened, you accept that there's nothing you can do to change it. The past is the past; she's not going to get better, he's not going to come back, I'm going to lose the house, etc. You understand and accept that things will never be the same as before so you create a 'new normal', learn to live with it and move on. You basically learn to live again, just differently from before.

Like I said before, there's no one way to grieve. There's no set time period after which you should be 'over it' or any certain way (like crying) you have to express things. These stages are really only estimates; you may not go through them in this particular order and/or you may get to skip a step, but it's something we're all going to have to deal with sooner or later. I wish it weren't so but, to quote my husband, 'it is what it is'. We can be there for others who are grieving and we can rely on our support systems, but the important thing is that we allow ourselves to feel whatever it is that we're feeling. Otherwise, it's just going to be that much harder to deal with later. Just remember, you're going to be all right. This too shall pass.

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