Grief is a multi-faceted response to loss, usually focused on the emotional response to loss, yet it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, and philosophical dimensions. Bereavement refers to the state of loss, and grief is the reaction to loss.
Grief is a loss related to something that an individual can touch or measure, like a losing a someone through death, while other types of loss are abstract, and relate to aspects of a person’s interactions with themselves and others.
MYTH: The pain will go away faster if you ignore it.
Fact: Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it.
MYTH: It’s important to be “be strong” in the face of loss.
Fact: Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to loss. Crying doesn’t mean you are weak. You don’t need to “protect” your family or friends by putting on a brave front. Showing your true feelings can help them and you.
MYTH: If you don’t cry, it means you aren’t sorry about the loss.
Fact: Crying is a normal response to sadness, but it’s not the only one. Those who don’t cry may feel the pain just as deeply as others. They may simply have other ways of showing it.
MYTH: Grief should last about a year.
Fact: There is no right or wrong time frame for grieving. How long it takes can differ from person to person.
Source: Center for Grief and Healing
- Divorce or relationship breakup
- Loss of health
- Loss of financial stability
- A miscarriage
- Death of a pet
- Loss of a cherished dream
- A loved one’s serious illness
- Loss of safety after a trauma
- Selling family home
The Stages of Grief
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced what became known as the “five stages of grief.”
Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”
Kübler-Ross said of the five stages of grief: “They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages. They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss, as there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.”
I highly recommend becoming familiar with Elizabeth Kubler Ross’ work on Death and Dying. I studied her work in the early 70s and it has helped in understanding how Grief affects us all, as well as, help me understand the processes of Grief and acceptance.