You can’t go through life without experiencing some sort of loss. Loss can come in varying forms, such as loss of a job, a loved one, your relationship, a friend moving away, your kids growing up, and loss of your dreams and expectations, etc. Even though you may experience pain from a loss in a different way from another person, you may go through the same stages of the grieving process. This week Imagine Hope wants you to understand that it is important to grieve any loss in your life. If you fail to grieve, you may get stuck in the process and live life feeling like a victim or full of anger and resentment.
The grieving process does not have a set time limit, nor do the steps always go in order. You may also find yourself in several of the steps a various times and flip back and forth. This is normal.
It is also normal to feel yourself grieve each time you experience a trigger. For example, even if it has been 10 years since your mother died, it is common to re-experience the grieving process every year around the anniversary of her death and on her birthday.
Remember that the grieving process can look different for everyone in each stage. There is no “right” way. The most important thing is that someone who is grieving feels it, processes the pain, and moves through the stages. The stages we are going to introduce this week are based on Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s work from 1969, although there have been many versions of this model since then.
Stage #1- Denial
Denial is a defense mechanism that usually lasts for a shorter period of time than the others. You will commonly hear someone say, “I can’t believe this is happening” or “I’m doing fine”. You will often see people live in this stage immediately following a traumatic event in order to survive though it.
Many people planning a funeral will find themselves in this stage in order to complete the planning process. In this stage people are able to compartmentalize their pain from the loss. Denial often lacks emotion and looks like the person is going about life as if nothing happened.
Stay tuned as we look at more stages tomorrow!
Written by Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC
Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling, child counseling, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.