Dealing with loss, tragedy, abandonment, separation, despair, is all an ending that at the moment seems so horrific, as if your world has just collapsed. And it has. The life you have known and become accustomed to has just ended and it seems as if there will be no tomorrow. Sometimes people feel as if they will be unable to make it just one more day.
Grief is a very stressful time. It is hard to come to grips with life without… There are stages that people will go through, copied here as defined and written by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, someone who’s book “On Children and Death,” (1985) saved me during my teenage brother’s death in 1987. I just now realize it is very interesting that the book was published only a couple of years prior to his death. The stages below can define both the reality for the dying person but also the reality for the living person who will survive the person after death.
- Denial—”I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me.” Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of positions and individuals that will be left behind after death.
- Anger—”Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?” Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.
- Bargaining—”Just let me live to see my children graduate.”; “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…” The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the individual is saying, “I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time…”
- Depression—”I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die… What’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer up an individual who is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
- Acceptance—”It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”In this last stage, the individual begins to come to terms with his mortality or that of his loved one.
The part of Acceptance for the survivor is one that takes time for a person to achieve and sometimes it might never occur if one takes their life in response to a tragedy. We also see a bitter dark story in the Dickens classic, “Great Expectations,” in regards to Miss Havisham, the jilted lover, never to recover.
For others, there is a turning point at which time they are able to realize a new life has just begun. And it has, whether we like it or not, or rather we wish things had been different. Here we are, in this new life, going in a direction we had never expected or dreamed would happen. It is when we are able to accept the loss that we become a new person. This is not a process that should be rushed as with any spiritual awakening, one must come to this conclusion on their own, when they are ready.
A loss is an ending that one day we will recover from. At this point, when we are ready, brilliant and wonderful things may occur. As acceptance is a healing of the mind, body and soul. It is the ability to realize that your life should be lived differently and even better in the wake of the loss, as a memorial, as a gift to the change. As if to say, “I can get past this and move forward as a strong person.”
With the loss of loved ones, I always like to think of how proud they would be, “if they could see me now,” or “as they watch over me.” As if my living is a tribute to them. For should we not be grateful that our life was spared or continued when a loved one’s was not. There is a reason for this.
I believe that loss happens to us to teach and guide us through life. It causes us to become more in touch with our higher consciousness and forces us to grow as a person. We must survive any obstacle that faces us through life or we give up and die. Yet giving up to me, is a way of saying, “I am incapable of being strong.” It is also giving power to the negative forces which destroyed your way of thinking and brought you to this place. Our power can only be given away, it cannot be taken. We make the choice to be strong or to give up. We decide whether we will have self-respect or self-pity.
Death is an ending, so is it a beginning. A new way to live designed through our new thought process, derived from the loss that gives birth to a world that is better than we could have ever imagined. Give yourself the right to go through all five stages with the knowledge that at some point will come acceptance and the ability for change and goodness that you could never have imagined before.