When a life is lost it most often leaves a wake of devastation in its path. Children struggling with the loss of a parent, spouses trying to fathom life without their soulmate, parents, siblings, and friends trying to find peace with a crushing loss.
The path to acceptance is never easy. In fact, the grieving process is one of the most trying, emotional and difficult processes that someone can go through in life. Unfortunately, finding peace and acceptance after a loss is not always possible.
The Five Stages of Grief
Grief is a complex and convoluted emotion. There are five stages of grief and they include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages serve as a framework for understanding emotions after a loss and the grieving process is entirely individual. Everyone experiences it differently, with different intensity, in a different order. This means that two siblings dealing with the loss of a parent will experience the grieving process differently. This is partially due to the fact that grief is as individual as your relationship with the person. Even two identical twins will have different relationships with their father and a different grieving process.
Understanding the Grief Timeline
It is important to remember that the grieving process is not a Point A to Point B type of journey. Yes, there are five stages of grief, but the process is not some linear journey with designated stops along the way. People move through the grieving process at different rates. Someone might experience denial for an hour, while others take weeks or months to finally recognize that their loved one is actually gone. Similarly, some people remain rooted in the anger phase for months, while others breathe through that but get stuck in the bargaining or depression stage. The fact of the matter is that you cannot put a timeline on grief. Everyone experiences it differently and needs to be given adequate time to come to terms with a loss. There is no deadline.
Finding Peace and Acceptance
Acceptance is one of the five stages of grief. It is not defined as “being OK” or “over” a loss, rather it is the understanding that a loved one is truly gone and a realization that living without the person is a new reality. Unfortunately, not everyone reaches this stage. Just like some people never slip into denial or bargaining, others never come to accept the reality of living without their loved one. Even those seeing a professional bereavement counselor might still struggle with reaching the acceptance stage of grief. It is also important to remember that just because you haven’t reached the acceptance stage in the first few months or years after a loss, it doesn’t mean that you never will.