Updated: Mar 31
You don't have to look far to find several views on the stages of grief. The 9 stages of grief, 7 stages of grief, 5 stages of grief...and the list goes on. All of them provide wonderful information on the grief process but as you can see from the image I created above, grief therapy can be compacted into even simpler basic themes: exploring loss, navigating pain, establishing stabilization, and rebuilding hope. The truth, while there are some similarities in the way individuals process grief, everyone experiences grief that is unique to their personal situation.
Two different women may have both lost their mothers, but the way each of those women experience their loss, as well as how they were emotionally connected (or lack thereof) to the person of loss will vary. Grief can generate sadness for some or anger for others, and so on. Though our grief response may be unique, we are somehow imprinted by loss in a way that collectively screams, "I will never be the same". Despite our differences, many seem to rally in unity around that painful reality at the bare minimum. When you think you are alone and no one understands, try to remember that our "personal" grief also has a universal name called "loss" that many can relate to. Community is important and establishing support can help.
Grief...is...hard. It is difficult to even find words for it and truthfully, we are unable to stay the same through it, nor should we. And that's ok. It's not always easy to adjust to the new transition of life without our loved one and/or what we have identified as "loss". Yes, grief can also be present even when have not lost a loved one. Grief has many faces. It is not isolated to death alone and often encompass the same symptoms at varying degrees. The loss of a job, career, relationship, family, pets, and even our health are all several ways in which grief can greatly impact our lives.
The good news is understanding that personal growth can still flourish in the midst of grief. We should not forget that navigating adversity can also be directed into incredible learning experiences that can improve overall well-being and further help develop meaningful practices of mental, physical, and spiritual self-care that can strengthen and empower us.
For many, faith is an important part of the healing process that cannot be discounted. So, finding a mental health professional that honors spiritual application to therapy, prayer and guidance is appropriate and should be welcomed. I cannot help but to reflect on my own recent journey of grief with the death of two family members within weeks of each other. The level of emotional discomfort and pain is STILL unlike any pain or traumatic experience I have ever encountered. I wrestled in disbelief and denial and had no solid ground to stand on other than my faith and trust in the Lord. As a survivor of trauma, Psalm 46:10 has always been a beacon in my life. It follows me wherever I go. I call it my lighthouse scripture. It's such a declaration that reminds me, though I don't understand, He does and He surrounds me with His Presence and love.
Ask yourself, What brings you hope? What is your favorite encouraging quote, keepsake, memory of encouragement, or like me, it could be a scripture. When we embrace our emotions in healthy ways, we can discover peace in the midst of our storms and our personal testimonies may even serve to help others along the way!
Take heart (receive comfort)...
"None of us can escape the reality of how painful loss can be, but we do have the ability to discover healing within our grief"