The Grieving Process

While everyone handles grief in different ways, there are four common steps to the grieving process.

Most people tend to shy away from the subject of death. Even those who choose to talk about it in a straightforward manner often use words like “departed,” “passed on,” or “expired” rather than “died.” Death can be an extremely difficult thing to talk about, and an even harder thing to cope with.

Everyone copes differently, but generally there are four common steps to the grieving process.

  1. Accept the reality of the loss. Often, when a death occurs, people go into a state of semi-shock. They may feel numb, and deny their feelings and even the death itself. As time passes, they begin to accept the changes brought about by death, and to understand that life can never go back to “the way it used to be.”
  2. Experience the pain of grief associated with death rather than ignoring it. Once a person has accepted the reality of death, he or she can allow him or herself to grieve. Feeling sad, crying, and an inability to concentrate or make decisions are all part of this process. It may be intensely painful, but it’s important to remember that these feelings should pass—or at least weaken—over time.
  3. Adjust to the changes that result from death by learning new skills or taking on new roles. The loss of a close friend, relative, or spouse produces radical changes in a person’s life. He or she may need to learn to cook, change the oil in the car, balance the checkbook, or perform other activities that the deceased used to handle.
  4. Move on by reinvesting emotional energy in other individuals or activities. The death of a close friend or relative obviously leaves a big void in a person’s life, and the final stage of the grieving process involves filling that void. Emotional energy that used to be invested in the deceased can be rechanneled into forming new friendships or developing new interests that will enrich the grieving individual’s life and help him or her “move on.”

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