Are You Grieving in a Healthy Way?
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Are You Grieving in a Healthy Way?




Oftentimes we hear, “Everybody grieves in their own way,” but there is a healthy way to grieve.


With this information, you will be better equipped to understand the process of grief, and how it affects us.






What is grief?


We grieve much more than the death of family members. Grief is the death or loss of something, which can be so many things throughout our lives.


We grieve losses such as the end of a marriage or other significant relationships, the end of a job, or a move away from a familiar home or city.


In addition to grieving an event, we may also grieve life changes such as those that come with aging or the diagnosis of a serious health issue.


As you express you feel grief, it is helpful to name and express your feelings that come with grief so we can better understand the process.


When we understand it, we are able to cope with it, and we are able to communicate to friends and family what we may need. Grief if a natural process and grief reactions should not be avoided.




What are the stages of grief after losing a loved one?


Many of us are familiar with the 5 stages of grief described in Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s book On Death and Dying.


The well-known stages were based on Kubler-Ross’s work with terminally ill patients in the process of dying. Over time, it’s also become our model for understanding grief and the healing process after the loss of a loved one.


The stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.


Denial is the first stage.


There is shock and disbelief about the news of an illness or death. “This can’t be happening to me.” Denial helps us to slowly process the news of an illness.

Anger is the next stage.


Once reality sets in, a common reaction may be “That’s not fair!” or “Why me!?” Anger may be directed at God or the doctor who delivered the bad news. Or it may come out as blame toward others.


The third stage is Bargaining.


“What if…” and “If only…” statements are a hallmark of this stage. The terminally ill person may negotiate to avoid death. “If you cure this cancer, I’ll never smoke again.”


Next is Depression.

Depression is the heavy sadness and despair that develops with the understanding that death is a reality.


In this stage, the person may feel numb and withdraw from others. They may lose interest in daily activities they used to enjoy and experience changes in eating and sleeping habits.


Finally, Acceptance is the last stage.


This is not necessarily feeling okay with the thought of dying but acknowledging and accepting that death is a reality. There may be a sense of calm or a transition to finding joy in the time that is left.


Of course, not everyone experiences all the stages and some people may not go through any of them. And Kubler-Ross did not mean to say that we should go through each stage in a sequential manner.



What does the grieving process entail?


Rather than following a smooth road with well-marked stops along the way, the process of healing from a loss may feel more like an emotional crisis, a roller-coaster with ups and downs and loops.


Anyone who has received devastating news or lost someone close to them has experienced a range of emotions that can change from one day to the next or even from moment to moment.


Grief can be messy, but it is still possible to heal and do so in a way that protects our mental health.

It is true that the process of grief looks different from person to person. How someone grieves may depend on their personality and life experiences as well as their spiritual beliefs.


What may not seem like a significant loss to one person may look much different to another. If the loss was significant for the individual, it is normal for that person to experience grief.


Grief and Loss



How long does mourning last?


Grieving takes time and does not follow a schedule. For some, it can be a long time before they return to their normal state. For others, it may be short but a highly difficult time of grieving, sadness, and pain.


And the relationship you had with the person who died also affects your grieving process. And in some cases, grief may be prolonged or complicated.  


Symptoms of complicated grief include difficulty accepting a loved one is really gone, or a preoccupation of thoughts of the loved one. 


It might make it difficult for the person to move forward in their life or have other meaningful relationships. In these cases, one may get stuck in a state of mourning.


This may lead to other issues such as depression or suicidal thoughts, anxiety, sleep disturbance, and an increased risk of health issues such as high blood pressure and heart disease. 


If this is the case, it is important to seek help from a therapist or counselor experienced in grief and loss counseling. Support groups are a helpful option for a grieving person deal with grief.


You will find these groups in various health care settings (such as mental health clinics and hospitals), religious organizations, or community centers. There are also virtual support group options available as well. 


If you would like to talk to a grief counselor, consider talking to Chris Houck


Photo by Irina Anastasiu from Pexels



Disclaimer: ALL IN Therapy Clinic aims to improve people’s lives through providing effective mental health counseling by passionate professionals. We publish quality material for your own education. Our publications are researched, cited, reviewed, and edited by licensed mental health professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.



Written and reviewed by

Dr Kyle Zrenchik, PhD, ACS, LMFT

Dr. Kyle Zrenchik is the Co-Founder of ALL IN, the Creator of the Couples Erotic Flow model for treating sexual issues in individuals and couples, Designer of the Deep Dive programs at ALL IN, and is one of the most well-respected couples counselors in the Twin Cities.

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