In life, we all face times of disappointment and regret. The causes can be anything from work issues to matters of love and from health problems to lifestyle challenges. But with understanding and awareness of our feelings, we can get through it all. On this score, the five stages of grief can be of great help. So let’s take a look at them.
Denial of what ever happened is a defensive mechanism that arises when we face sudden regret. In this initial stage, we feel perplexed. We don’t believe what we perceive and think it might not be true. We hope there is still a chance that the situation can change. The denial is temporary and gives us time to absorb the pain. When we are ready, different emotions will arise that take us to the next stage.
Stage 2: Anger
When we feel dissatisfaction about the incident, our pain turns into anger. We ask ourself why we have to go through all this. That anger is usually a manifestation of fear or rejection of the trauma we face. We may take out our anger on things, strangers, people around us or, indeed, ourself. We may be angry with people or things we’ve lost and blame them for causing our tortuous feelings. But beneath the raging anger is actually pain. Although it is not pleasant to feel that way, it’s something everyone just has to go through. It may also be a way back to the person or situation following the sense of solitude that goes with the initial stage of denial.
Stage 3: Bargaining
The third stage of grief is when we negotiate and try to fix what happened. We feel we would do anything to return life to the way it was before so we can be content again. We ask ourselves “What if…?” A sense of guilt can flood in and we feel the urgent need to take control.
Stage 4: Depression
The season of sorrow follows. There’s no pattern or clear time when this cross over takes place. We have to remember that sadness is not in itself a symptom of mental illness. Rather, it is a natural reaction to feelings of loss. Now is the point at which we begin to face the truth of our loss. Sadness manifests in many forms, including feeling exhausted, confused, lethargic, not wanting to eat, not wanting to sleep, not wanting to wake up, and just generally not being happy with anything at all. All of these are temporary conditions. When we're ready, we'll move on to the next stage.
Stage 5: Acceptance
Finally, we are ready to accept the truth. This doesn't mean we have to feel good about what happened. It’s really a sense of understanding and being ready to go on with life. It may take a while to reach this point and the pain may return from time to time. However, time and experience will enable us to see what happened in a different, less grieving, light.
Approaches to dealing with sadness
- Observe and accept the feelings that arise. Keep in mind that whatever happened is all part of life. Give yourself permission to share your feelings with a friend or family member you trust.
- Expressing your feelings through writing is another way of easing the pain. Give yourself time to go through the healing process.
- If someone close to you is sad, listen to them attentively and don’t judge them. Giving them non-judgemental feedback and perhaps a little advice from your own experience is the best way to help them feel better.
- Exchange experiences and encourage the person who has encountered the trauma to see things from a different more philosophical perspective.
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