Who said their are 5 stages of grief. Grief is a manifestation of love and why would we want to move through and release our love for someone?
The stages of dying and grief are recognized as the same—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But grief turns out not to be so simple. Studies show that grievers don’t progress through these stages in a lock-step fashion. Consequently, when any of us loses someone we love, we may find that we fit the stages precisely or we may skip all but one. We may race through them or drag our feet all the way to acceptance. We may even repeat or add stages. In fact, the actual grief process looks a lot less like a neat set of stages and a lot more like a roller coaster of emotions. Grief doesn’t proceed in a linear and predictable fashion.
The unfortunate side effect of our society’s erroneous but firm belief in the five stages is that many people wind up criticizing themselves for "not doing grief right.” When people buy into the idea that there’s only one healthy way to grieve, then it’s easy for them to attack themselves when they naturally find that they're doing it differently. This kind of self-criticism never helps anyone. Even if the stages aren’t exactly gospel, there are three important lessons, no matter what our unique grief process may be like.
Lesson 1: A Little Denial Is Natural
Denial is the brain’s way of “dosing” itself. Just as medicine is good for us, fully facing the reality that a loved one has died is ultimately good for us. But too much medicine too quickly can cause unpleasant side effects. Similarly, being forced to confront difficult grief-related emotions all at once can be unnecessarily painful.
Denial is the brain’s way of making sure that we don’t get too high a dose of grief before we’re ready. The brain naturally gives us “denial breaks.” These breaks allow us to relax, regroup, and ready ourselves for the difficult feelings we must inevitably face.
Denial becomes unhealthy only when it’s unshakeable. In such cases, people sometimes fail to face their grief. Taking a temporary breather from grief to watch a movie, have a distracting conversation with a friend, or just daydream for a while, is healthy, but trying to avoid it altogether can have harmful consequences. As a general rule, the only way out of grief is through it. If the emotions are there, it’s important not to run from them. But we shouldn’t feel we have to face them all at once, either. Grieving appropriately means allowing ample time to remember and feel the loss as well as embracing occasional opportunities to distract ourselves and regroup.
Lesson 2: Grief Can Shake Our Faith
When someone passes away, our faith in these things can be shaken. It may seem like the world will never be the same again. You may ask why did this happen? Life isn’t always fair, however, and people don’t always get what they deserve.
The loss of a loved one challenges these beliefs. As a result, people sometimes find themselves feeling guilty. It’s important to remember, however, that death has medical and physical causes, that aren’t our fault or, usually, anyone else’s. It’s natural to question the fairness of losing someone we love. Ultimately, however, death is neither fair nor unfair. It’s simply an unfortunate reality.
In addition to questioning our faith in fairness, we may start to question our faith in ourselves. Some people find themselves wondering, “Who am I without my loved one?” This is especially likely if they and the loved one were close for many years. They may have trouble remembering who they were before that person came into their life. People often define themselves by the roles they play in close relationships. They think of themselves as spouses, siblings, children, friends, mentors, or caregivers. When someone passes away, we may lose one or more of these important roles. In this situation, it’s natural to feel confused, sad, and even angry. Grief takes time because it entails accepting the loss of these roles and redefining ourselves. During this time of change, it’s important to remember what has not changed. Although much has shifted, some constants usually are present—our remaining friends and family are a good start. It’s important to take comfort in what is stable and use this as a “home base” from which to build new faith in who we are.
Lesson 3: Grief Usually Leads to Acceptance
Most people never stop missing their departed loved ones, the painful emotions they feel shortly after the death almost certainly eventually soften. It can be comforting to keep this in mind. We should reassure ourselves that “This is normal and won’t last forever,” it will be easier to honor our loss without added burden.
It’s important not to rush grief. It's very personal, and each of us is entitled to our own schedule. While people sometimes continue to experience moments of moderate sadness even several years after losing a loved one, most people’s strongest feelings of grief—known as “acute grief”—begin to lessen within a few months. But it’s important not to criticize ourselves if our grief doesn’t act like most people’s.
Grief isn’t a race to the finish line. It’s a natural, though emotionally difficult, part of life, and one that can’t be easily explained by five simple stages.
Credit: Psychology Today