Any loss demands a time of mourning, whether it be for a family member or a love. You need to understand what has happened and assimilate it in order to get on with your life. That does not mean that you need to leave it behind or forget that loss, but that you learn to accept it and manage that pain to be happy again.
In this post, we explain what the phases of grief are and we offer you some tips to overcome it. We talk about mourning when a person we love dies and is important in our lives. Death is part of the cycle. It is inevitable. And when it happens, the pain reaches every part of you. Here you can read more about what mourning is.
If at a certain moment, it was believed that pain disappears, the current theories tell us that it does not. Pain stays, but our life grows around it. So, although your life goes on, you recover your smile and your hope, there are certain moments in which pain returns to the foreground. Sometimes it is because of special dates or details that remind you of the person who has gone. Then you dive back into that pain and a torrent of memories flood your mind.
Although the pain remains because that loss is irreplaceable, it changes intensity and involves different feelings. You do not live it as you did in the beginning. You learn to live with it, to make it part of your life. And to get to that point, it is important that you successfully overcome all phases of mourning that follow a loss, avoiding pathological mourning.
Phases of grief after loss
You deny what happened because you can’t cushion the blow. Your mind does not assume it and it is the way to postpone that pain that you feel. This stage can last more or less time, depends on the person, but what is clear is that it is not indefinite, as there comes a time when you collide with reality.
Denying reality is a defence mechanism that people have. It helps us to soften the blow so that the change is not so abrupt and the damage is a little lighter. Denial may or may not be explicit. There are times when we verbally accept death, although, in reality, it is a kind of transitory fiction that we do not come to believe. In other cases, denial is explicit and we don’t directly talk about that person is dead. We deny that loss.
You dive into an emotional roller coaster. You are angry. You feel anger, rage and resentment. All those emotions are the fruit of your own frustration. You feel powerless because you can’t change what has happened, you can’t do anything to reverse the situation.
The mourning you are going through puts you in a state of sadness that you cannot alleviate. Death is inevitable and you perceive it as the result of a decision. You look for guilt. Anger is one of those phases of mourning that is considered disruptive, as two ideas clash, that of desiring life and that which refers to death as inevitable. Both with strong emotional charges that lead to this negative feeling.
You need to channel anger and project it in all directions without finding relief or a solution. You want to hold someone responsible for what happened. You feel the injustice and end up paying for it with the people around you, even if they are not to blame for anything. It can happen that you argue with people close to you or you feel irascible in general.
After anger and rage, you enter the phase of mourning known as negotiation. You create a kind of fiction in which you think you can reverse the process. Sometimes this stage happens when the person is still alive, even though their death is announced. It’s a fantasy that you have that helps you feel in control of the situation.
You negotiate because you are looking for a way to reverse reality. There are people who seek answers in supernatural or divine entities. You want to find a strategy that offers you a solution and by going back in time you manage to alleviate the pain a little. This is one of the shortest phases there is since it is not real and can be exhausting.
As fantasy is short-lived, you soon collide with reality: death. From that moment on, you enter a phase of symptoms similar to those of depression, even though it is not considered a mental disorder, but a part of the mourning process.
You no longer fantasize about other realities that are parallel and you put your feet on the ground. What you see you don’t like, hence the deep sadness you feel. You begin to be aware of what has happened, you no longer deny it, nor are you angry. You feel the absence of the loss.
In this stage of mourning, you find no comfort. It is common to go through an existential crisis that makes you rethink your life. You know that death is irreversible and that you have to live with it. Pain is inevitable and leads to suffering, which translates into that apathetic state you have.
From now on you have to learn to accept what happened and also start living with that absence. It is possible that you isolate yourself, that you feel melancholy, that you are sad, apathetic and tired. You think you can’t go on, that you’re not going to make it, and that idea makes you sink. But you have to go through there, you have to feel that set of emotions that help you heal the wound to channel the pain.
After you hit rock bottom, you start to raise your head. Acceptance is the last of the phases of mourning. You are close to overcome the loss or to learn to live with it without it hurting so much. You return to your routine, you stop being so sad, you are aware that you have to go on with your life and you begin to make new plans. You see your future with other eyes and from another perspective. You know that person will no longer be with you, but that does not mean that you do not have the right to be happy. You need to re-organize your ideas and create a new mindset.
Acceptance is a phase whose duration depends on each person. The important thing is that you go through it and that is what allows us to regain the reins of our lives. We learn to live with that loss without it being a problem to get ahead.
Here you can read some myths that exist in relation to the phases in mourning.
Tips for coping with the stages of grief
The phases in mourning are not linear, not all cases pass through all or there is a set time for each of them. Not all people live them in the same way, but the important thing is that we can all overcome them. Here are some tips for you to get it:
#1.- You need time
Mourning needs time. Don’t try to go faster, accept that this is so because you will avoid frustration and you will manage to accept better what is happening to you.
#2.- Express your feelings
When you talk about what’s happening to you, you get to share that pain you feel and what’s inside you. Express what you feel, label your emotions and thus avoid isolating yourself from others. You will also be more entertained which will help you not to focus on your own sadness.
#3.- Return to your routine
Life goes on and your mind needs to be distracted, so it is important that you return to your job, your daily routine, your hobbies or even start new activities. Even if you find it difficult and challenging at first, you have to do it. Keep in mind that the person you lost wanted the best for you and would be happy if you were happy.
You can dedicate these little accomplishments to them so that you can feel their pride and your own. You don’t have to set yourself big goals. Start slowly to avoid frustration.
#4.- Take care and take care of your own
Commit to a healthy lifestyle that helps you feel good about yourself and take care of your family, too. Don’t forget to take care of them. The situation is not only difficult for you, but it is also difficult for others. In this way, you mitigate self-pity and support others.
#5.- Do therapy
There are so many emotions that you must channel that it is highly advisable to do psychological therapy if you need help in mourning. You can opt for an online therapist to make the process more comfortable and have all the tools at your disposal in a comfortable way.
The experts in psychology will guide you through each of the phases of mourning. They will help you to manage your emotions, to govern yourself, not to anchor yourself in pain and to be the master of your own destiny. Little by little you will accept the loss, live with it and move on with your life. You will smile and be happy again, and this time you will do it differently because each of the stages you have overcome has helped you value more what you have. You will be stronger. Here you can take a grieving test to analyse your current situation.
If you want to improve your level of well-being, in TherapyChat we can help you. We are international leaders in online psychology and we have the right therapist for you.