Any Loss Can Provoke Grief
Any time there is a loss, there is the potential for grief. Foster and adopted children experience a lot of grief from all the losses in their young lives. Leaving birth family behind, moves from home-to-home, family-to-family. Divorce leaves a trail of grief in its wake, in which the children often feel it the most.
Other losses that may trigger grief, is the loss of a job, lost of feelings of security from being mugged, or loss of property from a tornado or flood. This is not an all inclusive list, we all experience many types of losses throughout our lifetimes.
Generally, there are five universally recognized stages of loss and grief:
1. Denial and Isolation
Described as the first reactions to news of a loss or grief. The tendency to deny that someone cherished has been lost, or is about to be. We isolate ourselves in an attempt to close out anyone or anything that would tell us otherwise, and to protect ourselves from the pain that lies ahead.
Once the mask of denial has worn off and the reality of the loss cruelly made itself known to the point that there is no denying it, an anger may set in. Angry at the situation that robbed us of the person we held so dear. Anger directed toward the person or possession for leaving us. Anger at God for allowing it to happen. Anger at those around us. Anger at ourselves.
PsychCentral says that this stage is "the normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability...often [stemming from] a need to regain control." In this stage, we are dealing with the "What ifs..." What if I would have sought a second opinion? What if I would have just stayed home that night? What if I were a better person?
During this time, we may also bargain with God. "Lord, if you will just let my baby live, I will do anything you ask." "God, take me instead."
The article, The 5 Stages of Loss & Grief, explains this stage so perfectly, that I am quoting it word-for-word:
"Two types of depression are associated with mourning. The first one is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate this type of depression. We worry about the costs and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have spent less time with others that depend on us. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance. We may need a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words.
The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug."
Finally, we come to a place of acceptance. We realize that nothing we do, or say, can bring the person back. However, this conclusion may not always be reached in every grief journey. The loss of a child, or spouse, or parent at a young age, may leave one searching for acceptance of the loss, yet never fully finding it. Sometimes, we just have to come to a place that I call "a new normal." Life after a devastating loss will never be the same, and complete healing never reached this side of Heaven, so, as a way of coping until then, we move into a new normal: establish new routines, begin new holiday traditions, find new ways to experience joy again.
The Stages of Grief May Be More Like a Roller Coaster
Also note that these stages may not follow in order, or you may go back-and-forth. I think that Hospice Foundation of America describes grief best: "Grief is a roller coaster, not a series of stages…Like many roller coasters, the ride tends to be rougher in the beginning, the lows may be deeper and longer. The difficult periods should become less intense and shorter as time goes by, but it takes time to work through a loss.”
The important thing to remember here is that every person grieves differently, and the experience may be different through each loss endured. Give yourself the time and space....and permission....to grieve that you need. Most of all remember that "the Lord is near to the brokenhearted," (Psalm 34:18) and He will faithfully draw near to you.