Grieving is part of the realities of life. Losing a loved one is one of the most painful and profound losses of all. Every one of us has experienced or will experience grief at some time in our lives. It is a devastating feeling of sadness and loss. Often times this process is accompanied by physical aches, pains and even serious illness.
Grieving for someone we love is human nature. Even with the realization that life terminates with death, we are never really prepared to lose someone we love. Just the thought of losing somebody we love can send a shiver down our spines and maybe tears to our eyes. According to experts, no one can be fully prepared for the full impact of the death of a loved one and the emotional strain that accompanies it. We often go into the denial of the accepting death and our grief. This modern world, has left us little to prepare ourselves for death and grief. We rely so much on major medical advances that sometimes these make us believe that we can cheat death with the miracles of modern medicine. When these fail us, we are left devastated and sometimes unable to cope.
Understanding the grieving process is important in helping someone cope with it, learn and grow from the experience.
Experts say that we usually go through three predictable stages of grief when we lose someone dear to us.
First is the initial stage of shock, numbness and denial. Shock is the very first reaction to a major loss. It is during this stage that we refuse to believe that somebody we love just left us in this world. The person experiencing this stage is in a trance-like state and will sometimes rationalize that the death of his loved one isn’t real and everything is a dream. There is a physical state of alarm with the person experiencing sweaty palms, icy fingers, trembling and disorientation. Usually the level of shock or trauma depends on how the death occurred and where and when it happened. Death caused by long standing illnesses might trigger lesser shock than those totally unexpected deaths probably due to accidents and homicides.
The second stage is anger, helplessness, depression, guilt and fear. During this stage there is already awareness of the person’s loss. The person experiencing this stage usually exhibits strong emotion and uncontrollable weeping. She may start to long for the dead person and since there is no fulfillment in the longing, she may feel deep frustration. A feeling of anger towards herself, the dead person and her friends may arise. Guilt and fear may also accompany her anger. A lot of questions might come up during this period. Could she have done something to prevent the death? Could she have been kinder and more caring during the person’s lifetime? Now that she is left alone, what will become of her?
The turning point of the grieving process and the final stage is the period of Acceptance and Adjustment. During this period, the grieving person starts to feel more energy and less sadness. She starts to participate more willingly in life. New activities, interests, job or even a vacation will initiate the final healing phase of grief. During this period the grieving person starts to take control of herself and starts to make changes in her life, making decisions not involving her lost loved one. Acceptance and adjustment may come a long way. It is not an overnight change. It varies among individuals depending on their capacity to adapt to changes. For some people it may take just a few months, for others, maybe a year or more. Those who have successfully moved on and rebuild their lives come to accept their loss and the realities of life. They have reclaimed their lives for themselves and in the memory of those whom they loved.
Your Independent guide to Grief and Loss
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