Navigating the Journey of Grief: Understanding Loss and Finding Meaning

Grief can be incredibly challenging to comprehend and heal from. Losing a loved one or accepting the end of a relationship, such as going through a divorce, is never easy, and death is an inevitable part of life that affects us all. While we understand this on an intellectual level, accepting it emotionally is a complicated process.

Every person processes their grief differently, and everyone has their own unique coping mechanisms to navigate through it. Understanding what works best for you is crucial in expressing and managing your grief in a healthy way.

Getting Help To Process Grief Is Okay

An Elderly Couple Consoling Each Other

If you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one or have feelings of anxiety about death and loss in general, seeking the help of a professional therapist can be a positive step. A trained therapist can guide you through the grieving process, help you understand the loss, find meaning in the person’s life and death, and honor them in a way that doesn’t cause depression or continuous sadness.

Alternatively, you may be experiencing a difficult time due to the end of a romantic or platonic relationship. Therapy can guide you as you process these situations. A therapist can help you identify why the relationship ended, why it needed to end, and assist in healing any lingering feelings of loss.

The Five Stages of Grief

When you have a counseling session with a therapist, they may start by educating you on the five stages of grief. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross first developed the five stages of grief, and she discusses them at length in her book on the subject called On Death and Dying, published in 1969. The book was initially written to help people with terminal illnesses accept their oncoming death. However, it can also be helpful to understand these stages while you’re processing other types of grief.  

Stage 1: Denial 

It is common for people who are grieving to appear unaffected by a death or the end of a relationship. This behavior may stem from the individual’s disbelief that the person or relationship is beyond their reach. Numbness and lack of emotion are features of this stage.

Stage 2: Anger

The most common second stage of grief is when someone becomes angry about their loss. This might appear as anger at the person who left the relationship for their decision to discontinue things, or it can appear as anger at the person who has passed away. 

Stage 3: Bargaining

During the bargaining stage of grief, individuals may find themselves making promises such as, “I’ll be a better person if only the pain will go away.” Religious people might attempt to negotiate with a higher power. It is also common for people to constantly replay “what if” scenarios in their minds. 

Stage 4: Depression

Depression and grief go hand in hand. Losing a loved one through death or ending a relationship is going to be sad. The loneliness, longing, and sadness you feel may take years to process. This is a very trying stage to go through and can often be one of the longest stages of grieving.

Stage 5: Acceptance 

Gradually, your pain will begin to lessen. You may never really “get over” the loss, but you can get to the point of accepting it. Learning to keep that loved one alive through memories or taking what you learned from a failed relationship can help you find new meaning in your life.

Going through loss is a painful experience.  However, you don’t have to go through it alone, and there are people who want to help you through it. 

If you would like to learn more about the stages of grief and how to process grief in a healthy way, feel free to contact me