Can we resist grieving? Can we grieve with grace? We reached out to Mansfield Psychiatrist Dr. Pat Rabjohn of Rabjohn Behavioral Institute for his thoughts on how to handle our grief. Dr. Rabjohn states “It’s ok to feel sad, it’s ok to feel disappointed, it’s ok to be frustrated. I think it’s so important when people are struggling from a loss to recognize that; however, they feel that day is fine. Just be honest with yourself regarding your emotions; sadness, disappointment, frustration, anger are all legit. The ones who struggle the most are the people who are experiencing all 5 stages of grief in the same day or even the same hour. I look for that during my evaluation because that suggests a high amount of anxiety that might require temporary medication and without a doubt requires a referral to one of our therapists who can get you to a better place.”
Grief – Life’s Passageway
If you’ve suffered a loss you’re probably asking yourself “what’s wrong with me?” And thinking, “be strong, stay busy and don’t think about it”. You can’t resist grief. The only way to get through it is to go through it and grieve. Experiencing grief is a normal response to a significant loss. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s not a disease and it’s not a disorder. There’s no time limit on it. It’s the price you pay for loving deeply.
Someone once said, “Grief is not something you get over, it never ends, it just changes.” I’ve repeated this quote from time-and-time to loved ones experiencing heartbreak. There’s no truer statement. Grief is a passageway. It takes time. And sometimes you need help getting through it. That could be a friend, a family member, psychiatrist or a psychologist. If you find yourself in deep despair and can’t seem to pull yourself up, there’s no shame in asking for help. The help is there. Know you are not alone.
Just as no two people are not exactly the same, no two people experience grief the same way. It’s different for everyone. No matter what you read or what someone else deems a socially acceptable timeframe, be true to yourself about your feelings of loss. Don’t put on a happy face and pretend your feelings don’t exist. Don’t bury your feelings and trick yourself into thinking everything is okay. This will only manifest into something far worse, such as depression or a unhealthy behavior.
Levels of Loss
There are different levels of grief. There’s the kind of intense heartache you feel down to your bones. The kind you feel after the death of a child, someone you love or a pet. But grief is not reserved for death, it can happen for a number of reasons. It’s the inner turmoil and emotional distress you feel when something or someone is plucked from your life. Don’t go getting any ideas. That doesn’t mean stop loving. You can’t stop loving to avoid being hurt. Yes, love is a risk, but it’s one worth taking. The greater the love… the greater the grief.
- Loss of marriage or a relationship
- Loss of a job/retirement
- Loss of a home or property
- Loss of a loved one
- Loss of a friendship
- Loss of wealth
- Loss of health
- Loss of a pet
The 5 Stages of Grief
It’s impossible to go through life without experiencing sorrow or loss. You may be familiar with the “5 Stages of Grief”
1st Stage – Shock & Denial
This loss often leads to isolation. The initial shock and denial you feel during the first stage of grief helps to soften the blow. It acts as an invisible cloak that absorbs the initial pain and keeps you from becoming too overwhelmed with the situation. This can last several weeks.
2nd Stage – Anger & Pain
After the coping effects of denial, isolation and shock start to dissipate, the pain sets in. This is when the claws come out. You are not ready to deal with the pain and it manifests as anger. The rage you feel deflects the pain from reaching your soul. It can also cause irreparable damage to relationships, so try to keep this under control as much as possible. The anger can be targeted at things, strangers and loved ones — nothing is off limits. You begin to resent the person or thing that caused you the pain in the first place. It’s advised to not try to escape the pain with drugs, alcohol and or sex. You have to experience the pain in order to move past it. You can do it.
3rd Stage – Bargaining
Often called the “IF ONLY” stage. If only we would have done this, if only I said this. During this stage you make all sorts of pacts with the universe. You are desperate and you’ll do anything to reverse the situation. Because you feel helpless and vulnerable, you try to reach for some unattainable control of what’s happening to you. You can’t bargain your way out of grief, but that doesn’t stop you from trying.
4th Stage – Depression & Reflection
This stage is a little sad. The enormity of your loss sets in and it just brings you down. You walk around like Eeyore from Winnie the Poo. It seems like nothing anyone says or does can snap you out of it. You have to ride this one out. During this stage of the grieving process, surround yourself with people who love you. And NEVER underestimate the natural healing power of a good hug. This is the time for personal reflection. You start to mentally prepare yourself to separate from your grief and say your final goodbyes.
5th Stage – Acceptance & Hope
As you start to adjust to life without whatever or whomever you lost, life starts to get a little easier. Things start to seem a bit brighter; a little thing called hope starts to make an appearance in your life. That’s when miracles happen. You begin to feel better and stronger than you were before.
There they are… the five stages of grief. It’s easy to get fixated on the recovery process, since you’ll do anything to end the pain. The truth is it’s different for everyone. Dealing with grief is not easy it takes time and patience. It is easy to get stuck in any of these stages — especially when it comes to depression. Once depression finds a home in your mind, it’s hard to get it to leave. If this occurs seek professional help from one of Top10MD Psychiatrists or Psychologists today.
Reach out today. We’re here for you.