Grief & Loss
Losing someone you care about or love is one of the worst things that can happen. Yet, it’s something that you’re almost certain to experience at some point in your life. When someone you love dies, you’ll respond to your loss in your own way. There is no particular right way or wrong way to grieve, but there are ways to make your recovery from grief more complete.
Grief includes the emotions and sensations that come with losing someone or something that is dear to you. When someone close to you dies, not only do you experience a concrete, physical loss, but you also lose what might have been. This means that your pain includes the absence of your loved one’s presence (the empty chair at the dinner table, a missed embrace), and also all the milestones in life that will be missed (the holidays not celebrated, the vacations not taken) – every life marker can be an occasion of renewed grief.
In 1969, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross suggested that there are five stages of grief:
Denial – “This can’t be happening to me.”
Anger – “Why is this happening to me? Who is to blame?”
Bargaining – “Make this not happen, and in return, I will ________.”
Depression – “I’m too sad to do anything.”
Acceptance – “I’m at peace with what has happened or is happening.”
It is important to realize that these stages originally captured the feelings of individuals facing a terminal illness and were never meant to encompass the experience of all grieving people. As Kübler-Ross later wrote (2005), “They are responses to losses that many people have, but there is no typical response to a loss, as there is no typical loss.”