It is regarded as the first of the 5 stages and may manifest through shock, rejection and disapproval of the tragedy being experienced. You may feel extreme sadness and numbness. Denial helps to accept loss and pacify the initial and sudden attack of pain.
During this chaotic period, anger can often provide the strength when you don’t feel like you want to carry on. While grieving, you may feel aimless and your anger may manifest at the most unexpected situations. This is a natural stage of the process and it is important to feel and acknowledge all your emotions including anger.
You may try to bargain in order to cope with the loss and protect the life you lived before the tragic event. You may find yourself trying to bargain with God or a divine power, if you are spiritual, or even with your own self. Bargaining is a coping mechanism and a normal response.
“There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief.” – Aeschylus
Depression can be common when trying to cope with the loss of a loved one. Although not necessarily a sign of mental illness, you may feel a deep sadness, you may lose all hope and feel lonely, isolated and withdrawn. This is also a natural response for loss and grief.
Acceptance doesn’t mean getting back to your life like it was and being ‘okay’ with loss. Acceptance is learning to willingly live again even though you’re heartbroken and feel empty in life. It is not about replacing what we have lost but about picking up the pieces and moving ahead while carrying them in our hearts and minds.
2. Dr. Therese Rando’s Six R Processes of Mourning
Dr. Rando believes grief is different from mourning. Grief is an unintentional emotional response to a loss while mourning is a systematic process of working through grief.
She claims that avoidance, confrontation, and accommodation are the three phases of mourning that one must work through. Rando’s stages of grief model enables you to begin your healing journey and live your life in a meaningful way once again.
Before we delve into the 6 R processes to work through grief, let us take a glance at the 3 phases of mourning:
- Avoidance Phase
- Confrontation Phase
- Accommodation Phase
Dr. Rando’s six R’s processes of recovery include the following:
2.1. Recognizing the loss
Instead of living in denial and ignoring the reality, it is imperative that you first understand, accept and acknowledge the loss of your loved one.
2.2. Reacting to the separation
You need to go through all the feelings associated with grief, mourning and loss. You must recognize, acknowledge, feel, accept and express your emotions in any way so that you may grieve.
2.3. Recollect and re-experience
“Keeping memories of your loved one alive in your mind and heart is an important part of your healing journey.” – Harriet Schiff
In this stage, you need to review, reflect, and remember the deceased loved one. You also need to process any and all emotions that may linger between you and the deceased person, present before the loss.
2.4. Relinquishing old attachments
You must let go of your attachment to the future you had envisioned while your loved one was still present. It doesn’t mean that you let go of the deceased or forget them. You just let go of all the plans and hopes for the future you had imagined with them.
Readjustment will enable you to begin the journey forward and start building a new life while including elements of the old. Form a new relationship with your deceased loved one and gain new perspectives to build a new identity for yourself.
It is the time when you step out of the pain and heaviness and start living a new life by pursuing new goals and developing new relationships while still remembering them fondly.