Everyone experiences grief at some point in their life, whether it's due to the death of a loved one, the end of a meaningful relationship, or the loss of a life dream or dream job. Understanding the five stages of grief and learning how to navigate them can help you cope with this complex and often painful journey.
At Michelle Silver Lining Mental Health Counseling in Flushing, New York, experienced licensed mental health counselor Michelle Ilyayev, LMHC, can help guide you on your journey through the stages of grief to help you get through them and live with your loss.
The concept of the five stages of grief was first introduced by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book, "On Death and Dying," and is still relevant today. These stages provide a framework for understanding the emotional process you go through when dealing with loss. It's important to note that these stages are not necessarily linear, and you may experience them in a different order or even cycle through them multiple times. Here are the five stages:
The initial reaction to loss is often disbelief or denial. It didn't happen. While it may sound unhealthy to deny the facts, it is a healthy first reaction to grief and loss, according to Kubler-Ross. Denial is a way of coping with the shock and overwhelming emotions. You should allow yourself to feel these emotions without judgment. It’s crucial to give yourself time at this stage.
As denial fades, anger replaces it. You might feel frustrated, resentful, or even furious about the loss. Directing this anger toward others, yourself, or even the person or thing you've lost is typical. Anger can be an intense stage. You should acknowledge and express your anger in healthy ways, such as talking to a therapist at Michelle Silver Lining Mental Health Counseling or through creative outlets.
In this stage, you may find yourself trying to make deals with a higher power or wishing you could go back in time to change the outcome. Bargaining is a way to regain or seek control or try to reverse the loss. While bargaining can be a natural reaction, it's essential to recognize that some things are beyond your control.
A profound sense of sadness and despair can set in when the bargaining stage doesn't work. You may feel overwhelmed by the weight of your emotions, experience a loss of interest in daily activities, or withdraw from social interactions. It's crucial to reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional for support during this depressive stage.
Acceptance doesn't mean that you're okay with the loss or that you're over it. Instead, it signifies a willingness to accept the new reality. You begin to find ways to move forward with your life while still acknowledging the impact of the loss. Healing takes time, and acceptance is a process.
Grief is a challenging and complex journey, and it's important to remember that it's okay to grieve in your way and on your timeline. If you're experiencing grief and need support through the five stages, call Michelle Silver Lining Mental Health Counseling to make a telehealth appointment today with one of our experienced and compassionate counselors. Or, request one online.