A grieving process, as the word itself indicates, is a “process”, and therefore, it takes some time.
In addition, there are a series of phases or stages, in which you’ll need to know a few things, so you can define your path without getting stuck in any step.
With this article I want to offer you an idea of the process, so that you can understand and normalize what’s happening to you.
I’ve focused more on what I think you should know.
- 1 Denial
- 2 Assimilation
- 3 The grieving process
- 4 Acceptance
- 5 Rebuild your life
- 6 How long does the grieving process last?
The denial process depends on whether the person’s death was “expected” or unexpected.
In the first case, if the other person had a terminal illness, you might have had some time to get used to the idea of what was going to happen, which is different from actually assimilating it.
When the death is unexpected, the first reaction is denial.
Your brain can’t assimilate such sudden information, so rejection comes instinctively.
- You can’t believe it.
- It must be a joke.
- What do they mean you can’t talk, see, touch or feel that person you love or who’s so important to you ever again?
No, no, no, it can’t be possible.
What you need to know: Denial takes time
You may deny the obvious for some days or some time.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t understand that the person is gone, you simply reject that fact.
It’s an internal denial.
You may even be unable to feel pain at first.
So don’t get mad at yourself, it’s a natural reaction.
After a while, you can’t continue denying what’s obvious, so the assimilation process begins.
During this period of time, you may have some strong emotions like sadness, anger, frustration, despair, pain…
What you need to know: Make room for your emotions
This is very important, because if you don’t allow yourself to express what you feel because you have too many emotions, or because you don’t want to feel pain, all those emotions could remain repressed within you.
After a while, your repressed emotions could arise unexpectedly in an inappropriate place and in a much more uncontrolled way.
So, allow yourself to feel what you feel.
Even if your strongest emotion is rage.
- Rage against the person who left.
- Rage against life, that separated them from you.
- Rage against everything because it’s not as you’d like it.
Make room for your rage and do it in such a way that it doesn’t hurt others or you: Write letters, go for a run or play loud music and scream loudly to let everything out.
Don’t be surprised if after releasing all that anger, sadness arises.
It’s the most normal thing in the world.
The grieving process
Grief involves an emotional adaptation to the loss of a loved one.
If you can’t adapt, you could be blocked.
This happens, for example, to a person who, after 10 years of losing her husband, continues to feel and mourn her loss as if it had happened yesterday.
And can’t move on by herself.
She’s trapped in the past.
At this moment, you may not be able to do the same things you used to, because the memories you lived with that person, only bring feelings of loss and pain.
What you need to know: Respect what you feel and take care of yourself
You don’t want to do something because reminds you of him or her?
You don’t want to hang out with the same people you used to?
You don’t have to.
I know some people will tell you that you need to move on and push forward.
And you will.
But just as I told you that it’s important not to get stuck in this phase, I’ll also tell you that you need to go through it.
Also at this stage, you are “vulnerable” and you need to take good care of yourself and let others take care of you.
You can’t deal with all the housework?
Well, ask for help.
You don’t have to be superwoman or superman, you’re a human being who just suffered a big loss and you need time to get back on your feet.
Give yourself what you need and trust that this stage will also end.
After the grieving process, feelings relax and you begin to accept the loss from a much calmer place.
At that moment, the opposite of the previous stage may happen, that is, you may need to go to the places you used to go with that person or contact people in your environment.
Now, sadness turns into nostalgia, rage dissipates and acceptance lowers your pain.
The places you shared or the memories that come, make you feel closer to the person who left.
What you need to know: Give yourself time, but get ready to go one step further
A person could get stuck in this phase if they “need” it to feel calm, they may do the same things they did with the beloved person every day and in the same way.
In that case, the calmness obtained is external and doesn’t lie within the person.
And this causes a dependence to a series of things…
That’s why it’s important to get ready to take the next step.
I know that the following is one of the most difficult steps to take and yet, I think it’s necessary.
Rebuild your life
If you’ve managed to go through all the stages of the grieving process, this stage will probably come naturally.
But if it doesn’t, you’ll need to give it a little push.
What you need to know: You have the right to rebuild your life
And you need to.
Don’t allow your feelings to leave you stuck in the past.
For some unknown reason, the person you loved is no longer by your side, but you have stayed here on earth an you have to continue living, this time without that person.
Rebuilding your life doesn’t mean forgetting your loved one.
That person shared an important period of your life and will always be in you heart.
But it’s time to decide what you want for yourself and for those who stayed with you.
It’s time to recover your previous life and perhaps make new friends or get a new partner.
That’s the healthy and natural thing to do.
So take that little step forward, look at what happened with love and from the present, choose how you want your future to be.
The rest will come with the next steps you take.
How long does the grieving process last?
It depends on the person, the circumstances in which the loved one died, the external support they get, their inner strength…
Some studies say it takes a year, but it can be less or more.
For me, the important thing isn’t the time it takes, it’s understanding that many of the things that are happening to you are normal.
If you understand that, you won’t get scared:
- when your emotions overwhelm you
- when you want or don’t want to do certain things
because they are part of the grieving process.
Of course, if you notice that you can’t do it alone, and the people around you can’t or don’t know how to support you at this time, you can always seek professional help so you don’t have to go through the process alone.
If you know someone who is going through the grieving process, and you think this article may help them, don’t hesitate to send it to them.