The Stages and Process of Grieving
The grieving process is universal and is experienced by people from all walks of life. Grieving may be caused by one’s own terminal illness, a relationship break up or death of a valued and loved one. One does not have to go through the five stages or even follow the stages in order while grieving. This is because everyone embraces grief differently and at times one may move in and out of the grieving phases more than once. Videbeck (2011) argues that nurses must have a basic understanding of the stages involved in grieving to be able to meet the challenge that grief brings to clients.
The denial stage: one tries to build a false reality in a bid to shut out the reality and magnitude of the loss out of their lives particularly when the loss was unexpected. Usually, it takes some time for the shock to wear off and as denial sheds in, individuals accept their new reality. One’s desire to control the situation prompts them to search for answers as to why it happened or how they could have prevented it from happening.
Anger phase: during this phase, one recognizes the fact that their life will not return to the way it was; a situation of recognizing that one has moved from their surreal to their new normal. Characteristic reactions like angry-sadness, depression-sadness, panic, blame, and despair are evident. One may feel extremely tired and may have difficulties in sleeping and concentrating. In addition, feeling of grief, helplessness, and depression may be witnessed. This feeling may result into feeling that a part of you has died, nothing is meaningful to you and you have failed everyone; your spouse, friend or even family. The people that are dealing with this person should ensure that they remain nonjudgmental.
Bargaining stage: in this stage, the individual has hope that they can disengage or shun the origin of grief. One may reform their lifestyle or even choose to compromise. This stage may not provide a sustainable solution. The acute feelings gradually decline and one begins to re-connect to their daily life slowly. This simplifies that one has accepted their loss and has accepted the changes that life has brought. For example, if one has lost their health, they can connect with their new them and accept what they can do in their current situation. A search for meaning and reconstruction is significant as one slowly reorganizes and acknowledges who they are. According to Cochran (2008), while initiating monastic, Buddha has a challenge of reconstructing his life and family. However, after he did, he died in his later years leaving behind the Buddha community.
Depression: It is at this stage when one begins to understand the certainty of the loss. For example, if its death, they begin to realize it is pointless to live and things may lose meaning and in some cases, the griever may refuse to meet visitors, be silent or even spend much of their time crying with the hope that these will disconnect them from their loved ones and their affection. Job of the bible was isolated from the city and even from friends. He sat in the ashes and could no longer go out to meet his friends. He remained silent for a week even when his friend came to see him. They too remained silent on him for a week.
Acceptance: the grievers come to terms with their death or the expected future, that of a cherished one, or a heartbreaking event. This is because one has forgiven himself and found what is meaningful to him. The change in the meaning in life may lead one to question their previous beliefs like spiritual belief and take a step in changing life’s major changes like how to spend their time. This leads to creation of new traditions and ceremonies. When job is told by the wife to curse God, he does not because He has accepted his condition and learnt to live with it.
The grieving process should take six to twelve months not unless there are cases of prolonged depression. Because the grieving process does not last for a long time, one should be careful not to remain in one stage for long.
Cochran, R. F. (2008). Faith and Law: How religious traditions from Calvinism to Islam view American law. New York: New York University Press.
Videbeck, S. L. (2011). Psychiatric-mental health nursing. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Zuck, R.B. (1978). Job. Chicago: Moody press.