Grieving is the response to losing something important to us. “In this world, we will experience pain and tribulation,” says Jesus in the gospel of John. Well, we may have heard of this verse once or twice in our life. Bereavement counselor Jim Reiser explains, “grief is a very strange and foreign world, a very painful experience, that is not something to be taken lightly,” (Reiser, 2019). Most of us have experienced grief. But, did you know there are healthy ways to move through the pain of grief? You might be reading this article and wondering how, “leaning into the pain of grief,” can help you move forward (2019). If you are wondering, moving through is not an encouraging prospect, but you will be alright.
Losing something that has great significance is a difficult matter. Moreover, there are different reasons why we grieve. Here are some examples of losing something that matters greatly (Help Guide International, 2020)-
- Death of a loved one
- Divorce or relationship break-up
- Death of a pet
- Death of a friend
- Job loss
- Loss of health
- Loss of financial stability
Every reason above can trigger an emotional aspect of grieving. The list of losses can go on forever. Yet, how can we mend a broken spirit? Healthy ways of grief can be received by anyone. There are numerous ways to grieve in a safe situation with a safe person too. If you are still reading this article, let’s look a little deeper into the foreign world of grief.
Grieving is never a good time. Depending on the person, grieving is an individual experience that is neither right or wrong (2020). Some people grieve through a belief system or faith. Others grieve naturally and without a provided structure. Moreover, let’s remember not to believe some of the old sayings about grief. For example, “the pain will leave faster if you ignore the situation,” (2020). “It’s important to save face in the moment of pain,” (2020). “Grieving should last only a year long,” (2020). Also, “moving on with your life means forgetting the loss,” (2020).
Therefore, coordinator Jim Reiser says that explaining grief and the grief model reduces tension and gives the bereaved a direction and sense of purpose (Reiser, 2019). In contrast, Kubler-Ross’ 5 Stages of Grief is a good model, but often does not help people understand that grieving is not a linear process (2019). A grieving person needs a ground to stand when moving through the process.
Suggestions for Grieving Stages
Undoubtedly, it is important to understand that no single person will follow the linear progression of grieving. Therefore, most people will go from one process to another. Here are some safe and comforting stages to help you move forward through the process.
Stage 1 Acclimation and Adjustment
In addition, Jim Reiser says that every person will go through the awful shocking moment that immediately follows a loss (2019). Often people feel disoriented, confusion, reduced function, memory lapse, and physical symptoms (2019).
In stage one, it is helpful for a person experiencing a loss to seek help from loved ones and/or professionals (2019). Jim Reiser explains that positive coping skills such as exercise, dieting, writing in a journal, gardening, and even meditation will help (2019).
Stage 2 Emotional Emersion and Deconstruction
Reiser explains that during this stage a person will ask the question, “who am I?” (2019). The loss will challenge the bereaved and their beliefs about the way things should be. Therefore, emotions are deeply rooted internally. Often people will deconstruct their belief system, because they question why their loved one was taking away from them.
Jim Reiser suggests developing insight, reconstructing personal values and beliefs, accepting reality and letting go (2019). A grief professional can help navigate the individual in this stage.
Stage 3 Reclamation and Reconciliation
A man named Pastor Tim Gilligan from the Meadowbrook Church in Ocala, Florida used to quote this to his congregation on Sunday mornings, “that peace is nothing broken and nothing missing.” Therefore, Reiser describes this last stage as, “peace at last,” (2019). Respectfully, there is an acceptance that nothing can be done about the death, but that the person can rebuild and create a new life. He believes the most important part is for the person to live in the present and to re-establishes who they are in the world (2019).
In short, developing social relations, decisions about changes in lifestyle, renewal of self-awareness, acceptance and responsibility are key characteristics the person will encounter (2019). The bereaved will rebuild and create a new life for themselves.
Important notes to remember if you know someone who is grieving. This model from Jim Reiser is a guide to help you understand and support the person grieving. Also, if you are the person grieving, you are not alone! There are many ways and people to help you during this process. This website can help you find a community of help right down from your neighborhood:
Author: Jamie Moore Sam Houston University Pre-Nursing
Help Guide International. (2020, September). Coping with Grief and Loss – HelpGuide.org. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/grief/coping-with-grief-and-loss.htm
Reiser, J. R. (2019, October 23). The Stages of Grief. Hospice of the North Coast. https://hospicenorthcoast.org/2019/10/22/the-stages-of-grief/