Hi there friends.
Today we are chatting about grief. Grief can be a sneaky thing if we don't understand it. Likely, we will all experience it at one point or another. This could be through the loss of a loved one, a pet, a home, a natural disaster or something that has been a regular part of you for a long time that is no longer there. Working in the therapy field I see grief in many forms. I work directly with clients battling Eating Disorders and we regularly see grief show up as recovery begins to happen. This is usually grief of letting go of something that has been a part of you for so long. Recently, my hometown experienced a natural disaster and over 1,000 homes were lost in a wild fire. Again, these are the experiences where grief tends to show up.
Being humans, we tend to push uncomfortable feelings away. When something traumatic happens it's normal to avoid these feelings and begin to do things to numb or avoid.
Today I wanted to shed some light on the grieving process and normalize the experience. These Five Stages of Grief were adapted by David Kessler and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.
This stage helps us survive the loss and it is a very necesarry part. When the trauma is too big and our emotions are too overwhelming, denial helps us manage what we can and survive the trauma. In this stage we simply try to get through each day or each moment.
Anger is usually a big emotion that humans tend to avoid. In this case anger gives us structure. We may begin to get angry with loved ones, random people who cross our path, God or anyone else. Anger allows us some sort of structure, reasoning and place to put our energy into. The more we can feel this opposed to push it away or numb it out the more we can heal.
This is where the thoughts of "what if" or "if only i..." begin to come up. We yearn for life to go back to the way it was. This stage is typically accompanied with a sense of guilt.
This stage is appropriate and necessary. This is different than a mental health diagnosis of depression. This is a necessary part of grieving that everyone will experience. You may feel empty, withdraw and feel lost. There's no quick fix for this. Feel the emotion, support yourself, nurture yourself and reach out for help as needed.
This stage doesn't mean that you're okay with what happened. It means you begin to realize it's reality and you can accept it. You begin to build your new life and continue on. You begin to find hope and purpose again.
It's important to recognize that these stages are not linear. It is expected to go in and out, forward and back. If you or a loved one is experiencing grief, here are a few tips I have.
Tips and resources
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and ways that have helped you cope in the past.
Hanna Kuyper is a wife, a mom and a lover of all things outdoors. She has owned a women only wellness studio, sat on the board of a non profit dedicated to eating disorder and body image awareness and has volunteered as a mentor for girls in school. Hanna has a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in eating disorders and body image. She is a currently a virtual body image and recovery coach at The Eating Disorder Center.