“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.” ~ Rumi
In my newsletter these past few weeks I’ve been sharing with you my participation in the Beginning Experience Ministry and how I’ve benefited from this life-changing program.
I am happy to announce that we held the weekend this past April 10-12 with much success! A group of eight individuals arrived Friday evening feeling lost and full of pain only to leave by Sunday afternoon filled with hope and feeling much lighter and more peaceful than when they arrived.
I can’t tell you how much gratification that I feel with being a part of the Long Island Beginning Experience Team. To directly participate in changing the world of someone who is filled with grief and who can’t imagine what to do next, means the world to me. I am honored to help and make a difference in someone’s life as they accept the help that is being offered.
As I’ve mentioned numerous times before, grief is unique and personal to each of us, as is our fingerprint. There is a myriad of feelings one can experience throughout their time of grief. To help manage this confusion and to ease the overwhelm that one experiences with grief, it helps to understand the grief process more clearly by learning about the 5 stages of grief. These stages were first proposed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book, “On Death & Dying”.
One note of importance as you learn about the 5 stages of grief is to keep in mind that the stages do not necessarily occur in order and the length of time spent in each stage will be different from person to person. The goal of the 5 stages is to lead us to acceptance. One common thread in each stage is hope. With hope, there is lightness that can be found and as long as we are alive, there are many, many ways one can find hope.
Understanding the 5 stages will come when you realize that you do not have to go through each stage in precise order. It will be more helpful to look at the 5 stages as a guide that what you are feeling is a normal part of the grieving process. It helps to understand where you are with your feelings and where you can eventually get to with healing.
The 5 stages which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance offer us a model or framework that make up learning to live without the one we lost. Once aware of these stages we can each begin to look at our grief with kind eyes. We now have a tool to understand what we may be feeling and to give us hope that we will be able to cope with life and loss.
Below is a brief description of each stage:
- Denial – Our refusal to accept facts on the reality of the situation. Overwhelm, numb – life makes no sense.
- Anger – Reality and pain have set in. We are not ready.
- Bargaining – Helpless and vulnerable. We need to regain control. “If only and what ifs” are present as we attempt to postpone the inevitable.
- Depression – Empty feelings are at hand and we feel this will last forever. Our loved one is gone. There is no escaping our reality.
- Acceptance – The final stage. To accept is to acknowledge and embrace a “new normal”. We must now find a way to live in the world without them.
I hope that reading through these stages will help you to further understand each of these phases and to know that by recognizing each, you will become more equipped going forward to face your grief. You will give yourself the gift of learning and you will have the ability to cope with any loss you may encounter.