“Grief is the response to the loss of any significant object or person in our lives. The process of grief follows such losses as death, divorce, other broken relationships, financial loss, lost job, amputation, loss of health, ageing, and abandonment of significant life goals or dreams. It also includes the many subtle losses that affect people.” Dr Bruce Litchfield When we lose a loved one, we enter into a world of grief. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘grief’ as: ‘Intense sorrow especially caused by someone’s death. ‘The initial reactions that come after a shock to learning of a loved one’s passing away can differ from one person to the next. Below are the most common responses and stages of grief. The 5 Stages of Grief in a Nutshell 1.Denial To help us survive the loss and make sense of this overwhelming shock in or lives. We can begin to feel numb to the loss and try not to feel what has happened as a way to cope or to slow down the absorbing and processing of such a painful experience. As denial fades a person becomes stronger to face the realities of the grief causing event. 2.Anger The more we allow ourselves to journey through anger and feel it, the easier it will be to get through to the next stage in the grieving process and be closer to healing. We may begin to ask where God is in this as we experience the pain of our loss. Grief can feel like being abandoned, deserted or even lost at sea. We can begin directing our anger at all sorts of people. In time anger becomes easier to manage as we begin to process this stage of our loss. 3.Bargaining At this point we begin trying to bargain with God to make changes. E.g. “if you do this God, I will change that and never sin again.” or “I will sign up for missions if you spare my friend or loved one.” We can begin to live in the ‘what ifs’ looking to avoid the pain of our loss or injury or in an attempt to rescue our loved. Then the ‘If onlys’ can lead us to blame ourselves and to seek out those things which we could have done better. This stage is about negotiating our way out of the pain. 4.Depression At this stage we can experience grief, intense sadness and emptiness on a more profound level. This is the appropriate response to great loss and may begin to feel like it will never go away. We may begin to withdraw from any social activities and from the activities we normally participate in during our daily lives. This is a very necessary step towards healing and is not deemed a mental illness but a natural, essential and progressive response to loss. 5.Acceptance We may never be okay with the loss of a loved one. This stage is not about liking what has happened. But rather about reaching an acceptance of the permanence and reality of our loss. Eventually we will learn to live our lives as a readjustment to life without our loved one. We can also experience a range of emotions including guilt. Feelings may also go up and down through the various stages of grief. Grief can take three different courses: – a normal grief response – a difficult long-term (two to four years) process of healing and readjustment – a pathological response when it is denied, delayed or distorted The words of Jesus indicate that grief springs from the soul: ‘My soul is very sorrowful even unto death.’ (Matthew 26:38) Other references in the Bible are: Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4) Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows. (Isaiah 53:4) Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me. (Psalm 23:4) ‘Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.’ Marcus Tullius Cicero Going through grief takes time – Grief is unique to each individual as no two people go through grief exactly the same. “Each grief, because it is personal, is very individual in nature. This is why people find it hard to relate well to grieving persons. It can be very isolating.” (Dr. Bruce Litchfield) What to expect after the grieving process? As we learn to live our lives without our loved one we may experience emotional pain during birthdays, anniversaries, milestones and special occasions. Sandra Ciminelli Cred.Dip.Couns.(Christian) Further Reading: Lost For Words – What to say and Not to Say to Someone Who is Grieving Source Grief.com – The 5 Stages of Grief- The 5 Stages of Grief Share this Facebook Twitter Pinterest Where to get help 24/7 Helplines Lifeline: 13 11 14 Kids Helplines: 1800 551 800 Mensline: 1300 789 978 Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36 Headspace: 1800 650 890 Talk to your doctor and see a mental health professional. Visit CCAA to search for a Christian counsellor near you.