5 Stages of Grief

Grief is a natural response to the loss of a loved one. In the grieving process, we are caught in a very turbulent flood of emotions: deep grief, crying spells, outbursts of anger, anxiety, loneliness and helplessness are the most prominent of these. The person may feel that they have lost meaning in their life, they may enter into obsessive thought cycles about what they can do to prevent this loss, or they may feel helpless about how to deal with this loneliness.

Factors affecting the grieving process in particular include whether the loss was unexpected or sudden, the closeness of the relationship with the deceased, and the impact of this death on the person’s life. So how does psychotherapy help someone who is grieving?

The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy school works on replacing thoughts that make the person feel guilty with more functional ones. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy helps to accept these negative emotions as they are, rather than running away. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the meaning of this loss, the unconscious associations of death, and the underlying causes of individual responses. On the other hand, EMDR therapy focuses on the traumatic parts of grief and supports the formation of functional coping mechanisms.

The grieving process is a difficult experience for most people. That’s why when you lose a loved one, you don’t have to deal with it alone. It will be very valuable to benefit from the emotional support of your loved ones, to express these feelings instead of suppressing them, and to talk about this experience during the psychotherapy process.

5 Stages of Grief

  1. Denial: When you learn of the loss of a loved one or know that you are terminally ill, this may seem very unrealistic to you. Due to the shock you have experienced, your mind actually does not accept this fact in order to continue its functionality; Denying this situation is the most understandable defense mechanism. You may feel numb or paralyzed, pushing painful feelings deep. “This diagnosis cannot be true. They probably mixed the results.”, “He didn’t die; He can call me at any time. There must be a mistake.”

  2. Anger: Anger is a mask of those bitter feelings that have been pushed deep. In order to protect himself from falling into these feelings, the person spreads anger towards everyone. Sometimes this anger can be directed at family and friends, sometimes at himself, and sometimes at the God who caused the loss. “God, why did you take that person away from me? What did I do to deserve this?”

  3. Bargaining: When we feel vulnerable and helpless, we come up with ideas to change the consequences of this terrible event. We believe that if we had exhibited certain behaviors to prevent this death, these results would not have occurred. At this point, thoughts that start with “if” come into play. “If I had called my father that night, maybe he would not have died”, “If I had gone to more hospitals, maybe I could have prevented this disease.”

  4. Depression: Depression is a normal reaction to the loss of a loved one. If individuals do not feel depressed at all, then we may suspect an abnormal response. The person also becomes more aware of his own mortality. He becomes more quiet, reluctant, and begins to spend time alone. “Anyway, I’m going to die soon, what’s the point of life?”, “How will I go on with my life without it?”

  5. Acceptance: This phase is not some kind of happy ending; however, it is about accepting the reality of death and thinking about how to continue in life. Psychotherapy can make it easier to enter this phase. “He will always live in my memories; I am lucky to have shared so many beautiful years together”, “Nothing I would have done would have stopped this death anyway, it is not my fault.”

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