September 1, 2008

Understanding the Grieving Process

In a conversation with my Dad yesterday we were talking about loss and he referenced the Seven Phases of the Grieving Process. I hadn't heard of this before and was inspired to Google it. Here's what I found by Elizabeth Harper Neeld, Ph.D. as pulled from Helps clarify so much of the process which, when you're in it, just feels painful and unending.

Grieving Process - Phase I
The grieving process usually begins once the person is informed of the death. During this phase, the person experiences a vast array of emotions - anger, sadness, shock, disbelief, etc. The first phase of the grieving process can last for several weeks.

Grieving Process - Phase II
After the initial reaction to the death, the numbness begins to wear off and the person may feel that the pain of the loss is nearly unbearable. Although many people may keep this painful feeling bottled up, it is best to express the pain. Hiding it and trying to "be strong" for others is not healthy. It's best to find someone to talk to who can understand the emotions and pain. Seeking help from community resources for support is recommended.

Grieving Process - Phase III
Once the unbearable pain of the loss has subsided, a person may begin to reminisce and try to re-experience past events with the deceased. Looking through photo albums, re-visiting places, and wearing jewelry of the deceased are some examples of how people may choose to remind themselves of past times with the deceased.

Grieving Process - Phase IV
The fourth phase of the grieving process involves a "reinvesting" of ones life. The bereaved begins to show signs of adjustment to life without the deceased. Discussions of "starting over" may occur, as well as changes to the bereaved's physical environment. It is not until this phase of the grieving process that the bereaved seems to be coping with the loss.

Grieving Process - Phase V & VI
During phases V & VI of the grieving process, the bereaved begins relinquishing attachments to past roles and relationships with the deceased. The past relationship is replaced with a new "memory" relationship. The bereaved begins to actively reinvest themselves in the "new" world - a world without their loved one.

Grieving Process - Phase VII
During the final phase of the grieving process, the bereaved is able to think and speak of the deceased person without pain. Although the person may still feel sadness, the pain has subsided.