THE STAGES OF GRIEVING AND MENTAL HEALTH

1) Denial

In the denial stage people refuse to believe what has happened. They try in their mind to tell themselves that life is as it was before the loss. They literally deny that anything has changed.  They can even make believe to an extent by re-enacting rituals that they used to go through with their loved one. These could be such things as making an extra cup of tea for the loved one who is no longer there or rushing back to tell them that they have just met an old friend.   Other manifestations of denial could include flashbacks to times and conversations from the past as though the deceased were here with us now. 

2) Anger

Anger can manifest itself in many ways. Individuals may blame others for their loss.  Alternatively, they may blame themselves.  Typically, more introverted people will direct their anger inwards and more extraverted people will direct their anger outwards, though obviously some people will direct their anger in both directions.  People may become easily agitated culminating in emotional outbursts. 

3) Bargaining

Bargaining can take place within the individual or if they are religious with their god. Often the person will offer something to try to take away the reality of what has happened. They may try to make a deal, to have their loved one back as they were before the tragic event occurred. It is only human to want things as they were before.

4) Depression

Depression is a very likely outcome for all people that grieve for a loss. There can be a feeling of listlessness and tiredness.  Often sleep patterns are interrupted and routines broken.  The person may be bursting helplessly into tears and have little control over such outbursts.  They may feel as though there is no purpose to life anymore.  They may have unreasonable feelings that they are a failure.  They may also feel guilty and believe that everything is their fault.  They may also experience feelings that they are being punished, and why do these things not happen to anyone else? 

Clearly these sorts of things happen to everyone at some time or other, but the depressed person cannot see this to be the case.  Pleasure and joy can be difficult to achieve even from activities which have always given delight.  Lethargy, disinterest and a general lack of motivation may prevent the individual from getting on with their life.  Decision making and confidence in one’s convictions may prove too difficult.  

There may also be thoughts of suicide.  Any reference to suicide should be taken seriously.  Obviously, there are many different permutations of depression and not all people will experience the same feelings, or with the same intensity.   

5) Acceptance

This is the final stage of grief. It is when the person realizes that life has to go on.  At this point the person can accept their loss and come to terms with it. They should now be able to regain their energy and goals for the future.  Some people will go about this slower than others, but the important thing is that they are back in the land of the living. 

People do not always follow these phases in a set, linear way.  They may move through them, then backwards, then forwards again, or they might miss some stages completely.  This is just a “typical” process of grieving. 

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