Giving yourself time to sit with and go through the various stages of Grief can sometimes be overlooked in certain situations, after all no one has died, and I’m in no way saying the sense of loss is the same as it is when someone has passed over. But we are often dealing with great loss and go through cycles of grief in other ways as our system deals with it all which takes its toll on our psyche.
When you have been given a diagnosis of something that completely changes every aspect of your life it can be extremely distressing. You are having to find ways of letting go of the ‘old you’ that you knew before and deal with this 'new you.' And often especially with M.E we don't know quite what we are dealing with and how serious it can be, as we read this and that, and people tell us their theories, that can be really scary and very confusing at times. It can also happen time and time again as you go through different stages of illness and recovery. Especially when it's relapsing and remitting, whilst adjusting and adapting to what is happening in the here and now. Then the added burden of more white knuckled rollercoaster rides as the continual ripple effects engulf you. And sometimes as the case may be, loved ones such as friends and family break away or get sent away and are no longer part of your life.
Below are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss. I've added various relevant pieces of David Kessler's text about grief, as I believe we go through the stages of grief each time we are shedding our skin throughout chronic ill health and recovery, and also when we have to let go of people or situations that are not resonating positively with our new situation or vibrations.
The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with what we lost. They’re landmarks that help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order. There can also be unique variations within the scope of these five stages. At times, people in grief will often report more stages. Just remember your grief is an unique as you are. The hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief ‘s terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss.
Denial is the first of the five stages of grief. It helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.
Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, yourself and your loved ones, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this?” Underneath the anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. At first grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything. Then you get angry at someone, maybe a person who didn't do this or that, maybe a person who isn’t around, maybe a person who is different now. Suddenly you have a structure, your anger toward them. The anger becomes a bridge over the open sea, a connection from you to them. It is something to hold onto; and a connection made from the strength of anger feels better than nothing.We usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it. The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.
“Please God, If I just do this or that?” you bargain with this or that. “Then I can wake up and realise this has all been a bad dream?” We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was. We want to go back in time, recognise the illness more quickly, stop it from happening. If only, if only, if only. Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if only's” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt. People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.
After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on? Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after loosing a loved one would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realisation comes. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.
Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is gone and recognising that this new reality is the permanent reality. Maybe we will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one went. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganise roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves. Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.
Resources ~ www.Grief.com