When people pose questions about the Stages of Grief Recovery they are often referred to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' Stages of Death. Her research showed what individuals would go through when receiving a "death sentence" from their doctor. In other words, they had a terminal condition and they were just given so many weeks or months, or perhaps years to live. Then they would go through 1) Denial; 2) Anger; 3) Bargaining; 4) Depression; and 5) Acceptance. In the media and on the net, these stages are often related to the grieving process which is completely wrong.
The Canadian Mental Health Association offers the following description of the Stages of Grieving which are in fact very accurate from this writer's point of view. Someone did their homework here and cleared up a very important state of confusion.
Here then are the Stages of Grieving - See if they don't relate to what your are going through right now.
Stages of Grieving - Canadian Mental Health Association
The death of someone close tous is one of life's most stressful events. We fear loss of companionship and the changes it will bring to our lives. It takes time to heal and each of us responds differently. We may need help to cope with the changes in our lives. But in the end, coping effectively with bereavement is vital to our mental health.
If someone close to you has just died, we hope this pamphlet will help you understand that you are not alone in your feelings and that help is available. If you have a grieving friend or relative, this pamphlet will help both of you understand and cope with this difficult time.
Mourning and the complex stages of the grieving process are necessary. Even though the present is felt to be intolerably painful, it is healthy and normal for a bereaved person to experience intense emotions and swift mood changes. These are natural reactions to loss.
It takes time to heal. The period of grieving depends upon the situation and varies greatly from person to person. Grieving is not a weakness; it is a necessity. Refusing to grieve is not courageous and may cause you a great deal of harm later on.
Grieving helps us to come to terms with the need for our relationship with the deceased and to re-focus our energies toward the future.
The Real Stages of Grieving
There are many different stages of grieving. The three stages outlined below are ones which most people will experience. However, people do not usually flow from the first stage through to the last in a logical order. Some people will jump back and forth between stages. The length of time it takes to go through the different stages will vary.
Stage I - Numbness or Shock - Immediately after news of death, you will likely experience a period when you feel very little except a sense of unreality. Some people have described this period as being enclosed in a cocoon, or as "sleepwalking", through the funeral and necessary details which follow death. This stage may last for several weeks or several months.
Stage II - Disorganization - Eventually, nature's protective shock begins to wear off, and feelings begin to come alive again. You may have some physical symptoms such as tightness in the throat, shortness of breath, the need to sigh frequently and extreme fatigue. Emotional symptoms can be even more distressing. Anger at the loved one for dying and the accompanying guilt may be overwhelming. You need to review the life of the deceased person and the events leading up to the actual death. You may agonize over things you believe you did wrong or things you think you should have done for the deceased. Most frightening of all can be the feeling of losing emotional control. It is a painful period of emotional upheaval but a normal and necessary part of grieving. Most people will recover but it can take weeks, months or, to some degree, several years.
Stage III - Re-organization - Eventually, there will be periods when you do not dwell on your loss, and you can focus on daily tasks. A great hurt is never completely forgotten; rather, it takes its place among life's other, more immediate demands. Deeper friendships may be formed through the process of sharing. You may have a new awareness of the preciousness of life and of the value of people and experiences.
How to cope with your own grief
This is sound advice from the Canadian Mental Health Association. We would add the following recomendations. !) Acquire a good reading and/or audio book resource that you can access whenever you want and need to. 2) Try out a Grief Support Group in your area. 3) Join an online Grief Support Network where you can post your story, support others and receive support in turn. 4) See a therapist if your grief reactions are so overwhelming you feel you can't function. This will be short term. For the long term, items 1 and 2 above are the most important.