Grief is different for everyone. There is neither a timeline nor are there linear stages. Learning about the turbulent nature of grief can help us find our way to healing. Some individuals will not experience all the elements of grief, and others may experience these elements in different orders.
It is important to give yourself the space and permission to go through any of the elements as it comes because your healing process is unique to you.
The elements of grief according to the Kübler-Ross’ Grief Model is as follows:
What you feel: Avoidant, Confused, Elated, Shocked, Fearful
Denial is a way to protect ourselves from the initial pain caused by the incident. The abrupt shift in our reality can be overwhelming, and by denying what has happened, it slows down the emergence of that new reality.
What you feel: Frustrated, Anxious, Irritated
Anger is normal. As we try to adjust to a new reality, we are likely to experience extreme discomfort and fear. Because there is so much to process, anger may feel like a powerful emotional outlet.
What you feel: Guilt, Hopelessness, Exasperated, Desperate
Bargaining is when we tell ourselves one side of a story compromising to alleviate the pain. We sometimes reach a point of exasperation where we are willing to do almost anything to alleviate the pain. We may say things like, “I promise to be a better person if you let this person live.”
What you feel: Overwhelmed, Helplessness, Hostile, Escapism
At this stage, bargaining no longer feels like an option, and reality sinks in. We begin to feel the loss of our loved one in abundance. The emotional fog begins to clear and the loss feels unavoidable.
What you feel: Openness, Hopeful, Positive
At this point, you have accepted the new reality. We are no longer resisting reality, and we are not trying to create scenarios to make it something different. Planning future steps towards a positive outlook now becomes possible.
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