Too often I have heard it said, “They should be over it already.” I have been told by many, “I think this is hurting too long.” I am here to break the silence. THIS IS YOUR JOURNEY! There isn’t a time frame on grieving.
Too often I have heard it said, “They should be over it already.” I have been told by many, “I think this is hurting too long.” I am here to break the silence. THIS IS YOUR JOURNEY! There isn’t a time frame on grieving. Loss is an enigma. There are emotions, thoughts, memories and plans that need to be processed along the road to healing. Each of us has our own “tool box” of life experiences that have given us ways for coping and no two are the same.
When we are talking about loss, it changes us. As humans, we go through emotional and physical changes that are attached to the loss we are experiencing. For some, loss can cause us to feel confused, angry, powerless or depressed. Physically, we may lose our appetite and feel body aches. Sometimes we can rationalize to ourselves why a loss has happened, but there are times it will take us much longer to recover.
There are 5 stages of grief. When we learn the 5 stages, we can better understand how the grief is affecting us personally. Although they are stages, we will not all experience them in the same order or at set time intervals. We often can skip stages or go back and forth between two.
The first stage is the denial. This is the phase of feeling like this is not happening to us. The second is anger. This is the “why me or it’s not fair” stage. This phase can also be where we are angry with the person we have lost. The third stage is called bargaining. This is when we want to bargain with something greater than us asking for the pain to stop if we do something “good.” The fourth stage is depression or the acknowledgment of the hurt that we feel. The last stage is acceptance. We come to realize that we cannot change what has happened, but we learn ways to move forward.
The reason some of us wonder why it takes so long to heal is because we can identify that it is affecting those around us. We see others become frustrated or angry with how we are coping at the time, so we want to push through the grief process rapidly to return to “normal.” At other times, we see that others become sympathetic or show pity, and this is not something we are comfortable with personally.
One thing I have learned is that when others around us do not understand our process, we can become stuck with the phase that we are in without acknowledging to ourselves that we have not allowed healing to begin. Over the years, I have heard that the hardest thing for people to deal with is looking for the answer to the question “why.”
This is where I have found that most of the relationships we have in our lives become clouded. We allow ourselves to get stuck in the why. We ask ourselves why it happened, why to us, why to our families, why to their families, why now. I want to explain to you that this is okay and it is normal. There is nothing wrong with the questions why.
What we need to do in order to move forward is consciously choose to put down the whys because it can consume us. We want to be above becoming a victim of the circumstances that we are dealing with.
This still does not mean there is a time that is “too long” to grieve. We need to move past those questions when we know we are ready to grow from the loss we have experienced. For some, this requires counseling to have another person to open up to who knows nothing about your life. For others, it simply becomes a choice when they are ready to not feel this way any longer.
The reason that loss is an enigma is because every person we lose has had a different role in our lives. They have impacted us on different levels causing the stages we experience to be longer, shorter or skipped.
The biggest takeaway is to allow yourself to experience each emotion before moving on to the next. If we do not allow this, grief can cause long-term effects on how we interact with other relationships on our journey.
There is a silver lining, if you can call it that, to grief and loss. We can learn to be better listeners, more involved, healthier, compassionate, empathetic, and stronger. We can grow from the experience because we learn about new ways to cope and about who we are. We learn about how deeply human connections have affected us. We teach ourselves that we can also have the same impact on others.
The message I really want everyone to learn is that grieving is a personal journey. You will never go through the same journey and process as another. Never rush someone through healing because there is never a time frame that can be set. Allow them to feel and find the peace in their “whys” but don’t tell yourself or those around you “You have grieved long enough.” Grieving can be for a lifetime. What we want to see people do is learn to cope and move forward with life instead becoming bitter and stuck.
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