Death. It’s never pretty. It never goes away. No matter how sick a loved one is, their death still comes as a shock. My mother was always sick in some way, and she was very disabled. I lived near her and helped her out a lot with things like shopping, making food, running errands, etc. I was 7 months pregnant when she passed away. I will never forget that moment. I will never forget the feeling. Helplessness, abandonment, and extreme pain are just a few descriptions out of many.
I have never been good at dealing with death. But when it was my mom it was the worst. I live right down the street from where she lived so I had to deal with everything right away. I have 2 older sisters and 1 younger. My older sister is in New Jersey with us, just 2 hours south, but my other sisters live in Florida so they had to fly up. That was the worst time of my life and I’m still not over it, almost 4 years later.
Here are the five stages of grief, as outlined by http://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/:
- Denial- This stage helps us survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief.
- Anger- Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, yourself and your loved one who died, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this? Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss.
- Bargaining- Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God, ” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.” After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others. Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?” We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was; we want our loved one restored.
- Depression- After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of.
- Acceptance- Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing.
Now these stages don’t go in order. And when you move on to a different stage of grief, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are finished with the one you moved on from. Grief is a funny thing, and it can hit you even when you think you have moved on. I am always stuck in denial and anger. There is no timeline for you to grieve, and you will probably be grieving this person for your entire life, even if it only hits once in a while.
Just know that it is completely normal. Everyone is different and while the stages are the same, everyone grieves differently. If you need help with the process, reach out to a counselor. You are not alone.