Stages of Grief


BY: Diane Snyder Cowan, MA, MT-BC, CHPCA

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

As bereavement professionals, we are often asked to talk about the "stages of grief" and when will grief end. The truth is that when you experience the death of a loved one or have a significant loss, you never get back to normal. There is a new normal. Over time one learns how to live with the loss. Finding ways to remember and maintain an enduring connection with the deceased is one way to manage. Grief evolves and changes over time. It doesn't happen in orderly stages and one doesn't get over it.

Initially the rawness of grief can be overwhelming and many people report feeling like they are on a rollercoaster of emotions. Countless factors can trigger a grief reaction and it might feel like life will never settle down. But it will.

Consider grief as a rock with very jagged edges. The rock, so pointy and rough to the touch, could easily break your skin. If you put it in your pocket, you would be very aware of it and it might even tear a hole in the fabric of your pocket. If you were to continue to carry the rock and occasionally hold it in your hand, in time its edges would soften. In your pocket it would serve as a reminder of your loved one, but its presence wouldn't be as painful. Grief softens over time. It does not disappear. It is a gift that your loved one's  memories remain forever in your heart.

Whether you are newly bereaved or well into your grief journey, be kind to yourself this summer. Perhaps you may want to go rock collecting and find that one special rock to carry in your pocket.

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