The human experience of grief and loss is a natural part of everyday life. Grief is felt about many aspects of life. Although the death of a loved one is often the first cause that comes to mind there are many other kinds of losses which can spark a grief response. For example; the break up of a relationship; the loss of a job, whether that is unexpected or by retirement; the death of a beloved pet; the loss of health or the ability to look after yourself.
These are some of the types of losses people experience on a daily basis. While the list of losses is endless, the process of dealing with grief does not change.
What is described here is a brief outline of dealing with grief based on the work of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross MD. Elisabeth was a pioneer in encouraging conversations about death and dying. Her conviction was that we cannot truly live until we face the reality of our mortality. When people would introduce Elisabeth as the 'Death and Dying' lady, (Death and Dying is the title of one of her books) she would get annoyed and say 'No no no... I am the life and living lady!' To learn more about Elisabeth and hear her talk about her work there are some links on another page where I talk about Meeting Elisabeth Kübler Ross.
The first, and often the most difficult step in allowing the grieving process to happen is to acknowledge your grief. This sounds fairly obvious when it comes to the death of a loved one but it can be less clear in other circumstances. You may have been looking forward to your adult children leaving home for a long time and when they finally leave it may be hard to acknowledge your grief about a situation that everybody may have been looking forward to. In this instance there can be many mixed feelings all rolled into one which can be very confusing and disorientating.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross set out 5 stages of grief to describe the general stages that people go through. It is important to note that there is no particular order to how or when we can find ourselves in any or each of the stages. It is not unusual to dip in and out of the stages in all kinds of haphazard ways. We can feel acceptance one minute and be in denial the next. Both are natural and ordinary manifestations of grief but they can be very unsettling. This is the natural process of grief and simply the way it happens. The five stages of grief are listed and explained in a little more detail on the 5 Stages of Grief page.
Do contact me if you are at all confused and would like to talk about grief. If you are not sure whether grief and loss are issues in your life we can always do a grief timeline which will give you a very clear map of your personal grief situation. Remember your questions are always welcome.