The Stages and Symptoms of Grief:
Once a person faces the reality of a loss in his/her life he/she must experience grief. Because grief is a process, someone said, “The only way out of grief is through”.
Grief forces us to deal with and face the pain of loss.
There are many ways to look at the grief process. Dr. kubler-Ross identified this pattern in dying patients: denial “there must be some mistake”; anger “why me?”; bargaining…an attempt to postpone; depression: sorrow over past losses & that to come; acceptance/ reorganization.
Dr. Colin Murray-Parkes defined 4 phases of mourning:
- A period of numbness occurring close to the time of loss
- A phase of yearning: for lost one to return; a denial of the
- Disorganization/despair; bereaved finds it difficult to function in environment.
- Reorganized behavior…beginning to pull life back together.
You will experience some of the following symptoms:
shock, sadness, crying; changes in life & roles & responsibilities; fears about the future, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, anxiety, loneliness, confusion, yearning.
Difficulties with faith, socialization and maintaining normal activities for a time.
anorexia, somatic distress, fatigue, guilt, anger, hostility, The normal of stages: shock, protest, disorganization, reorganization.
“After a significant loss many people have the sense they are going crazy, particularly if they have not sustained a major loss before.”
Though one experiences the phases of grief he/she is not a helpless victim. There are tasks which a person can actually work through whether he/she has been through the death of someone close, a divorce, or been victimized through abuse or crisis.
The following 4 phases of grieving must be worked through and it will take a period of time to do it:
Shock vs. reality; Protest vs. experience; Disorganization vs. adjustment: Attachment vs. reorganization.
Facing the loss with God’s help, placing our hope in Christ, our Savior and experiencing the feelings and work of grief promotes healing.
When should someone get help or counseling? When he/she does not accept reality of loss: When one gets stuck in the past or doesn’t develop coping skills; withdraws from world, and/or becomes increasingly helpless. It is time to get professional help when depression sets in:
When one manifests Major Depression Symptoms:
*over 2 week period.
…lengthy depressed mood
…decreased interest or pleasure in most activities
…significant weight loss or weight gain
…insomnia or hypersomnia
…fatigue or loss of energy …worthlessness or excessive/ inappropriate guilt
…difficulties thinking/ concentrating, indecisiveness nearly every day.
..thoughts of death/suicide*
*If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, get immediate help by getting a professional counseling referral through your family physician or the American Association of Christian Counselors or the National Board or Certified Counselors.
© 2023 Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC
Read more about Understanding and Coping with Grief.