28 Aug Stages of Grief
At Colorado Accident and Injury, our job is to help victims of automobile accidents recover as quickly and successfully as possible. We offer chiropractic services, medical pain management, massage therapy, neuropsychology, and speech therapy. And we hope your second phone call after an accident (after calling the police) will be for us. However, we are also aware that some of our patients have lost loved ones in tragic accidents. Our condolences, of course, go out to anyone in this situation. We also know that grieving takes its course of time, which could be different for everyone. There is no master formula for how to grieve, but there is a standard outline of grief that helps people to work through their grief as hard as that might be.
It helps patients recover if they are aware of the standard outline of grief so they don’t feel they are unduly suffering. If you know anger, for example, is an all but universal stage of grief, suffered by anyone, then it helps to feel just angry and not angry and isolated.
The five stages of grief are widely known. They include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, finally, acceptance.
This is the first stage of grief that can be symbolized by hearing someone’s immediate loss of a loved one, which comes out of their mouths as, “No, no, no, no!”
Denial, in my option, gets a bad rap People in fights often yell at each other, “you are in denial!” turning a coping mechanism into a weapon to hurl at someone when you are angry. Most label denial is a bad thing, when it is, in fact, one of several defense mechanisms when hurt psychologically. My assumption is different. I don’t think anyone could get out of bed without a nice sprinkling of denial. Life is challenging. Life doesn’t end well. We need denial to push some of those barriers away. It’s not evil, per se, to be in denial. I often call it, “the gift of denial.” Denial – unless it gets cemented in place – helps us from feeling overwhelmed. It can help you cope with grief and take your time with a loss.
The reaction to losing someone or learning you have a fatal illness includes a reaction of anger. They can be angry about their fate, angry they seem to be singled out for punishment, angry that they feel helpless. Anger is also a constant in the stages of grief, although some people show their anger differently.
One little-discussed psychological aspect of grief is the inevitable fading of a memory of someone. In the movie, “Sleepless in Seattle,” Ross Malinger, the boy playing Jonah, says sadly, that memories of his mother were starting to slip away. This can be very difficult, seemly forcing you to go through grief twice – once for the loved on and again for the loss of your memory of someone.
Humans are smart. We have excellent senses of logic, creativity, sensitivity, and can dream up options that aren’t real – options that occur to us when they are not realistic.
This is what comes in the bargaining stage. In the bargaining stage, you might pray to a higher power to bring back your loved one or to cure an illness or condition you might have. Bargaining is normal. Everyone does this.
Once we realize our bargaining won’t work out, it is normal to feel defeated. You put so much energy into finding a way out of this experience and realize, at some point, there is only one path in this scenario that is that the loss is permanent. This shows up as depression, which should be monitored. You should check in with the physician of your depression lasts more than two or three months. Your physician or therapist may be able to help with this.
At the end of this emotional roller coaster is acceptance. For some, this occurs very late in their lives, in the last week or so. A week before my father died I asked him, “Are you scared?” And he replied, “Not anymore.” He had come to the acceptance stage.