This post may contain affiliate links. Read full disclosure here.
This post may contain affiliate links. Read full disclosure here.
Coping with Loss: Bereavement and Grief
A month ago today, my father passed away. Actually, he was killed. In a plane crash. You might have heard about the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 flying from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya on March 10. The plane crashed after only six minutes in the air, killing 149 passengers and 8 crew members. The shock of his death didn’t sink in until almost 48 hours after I got the news. That’s why today I want to talk to you about how to cope with grief and loss.
You see, my father in law had passed away in October, my mother in law in February, and my dad in March. My son lost his remaining three grandparents in a matter of six months.
Realising What Has Happened
The immense shock, pain and sadness are beyond anything I could ever describe to you in words. So many questions regarding my dad’s death quickly took over my entire existence.
Did he suffer? Was he aware of what was happening? Did he have time for any last thoughts? Pass out or have a heart attack before impact? Did he pray to God to save his soul?
Just unspeakable horror. Then the “what if” questions set in. What if he had missed his flight? Or had taken the next flight? All the what ifs and why?
This could have happened to anyone. So why him? Well, this is a question we will never get an answer to.
As you can imagine, and what is often times the case, is that the family members or loved ones of a victim of a plane crash face do not have a body to mourn. We were left with a series of memorials and a funeral without a body.
My siblings and I also learned a lot about my father. Every single story that was shared about our father was about his love for people, his kindness, and his willingness to help.
So today, I want to share with you the stages of grief and the steps you can take to move through the pain of losing or loved one.
What Is Loss?
Most times when we think or speak of grieving and loss we think of death. There are many other kinds of loss in life. A loss of a job, an illness, or even a divorce, to name just a few. Positive changes often times involve loss.
What Is Grief?
Grief is the process we experience and go through as the result of a loss in our lives. It’s a natural reaction to loss that involves a series of stages. Our individual experiences of grief vary so the stages may overlap, or come in a different order. During this process, we may experience myriad emotions, such as confusion, sadness, fear, guilt or hopelessness.
View this post on Instagram
All things in life have a purpose. Sometimes we know the purpose and sometimes we don’t. When you start simplifying your life, you can begin living it in the present. Choosing to live in the past or the future only robs you of enjoying today. Always choose to forgive and move on. Each day is full of endless possibilities, so soak in as much as you possibly can. Carpe diem! Live your life, seize the day. 🌼 ❤️ www.purposefulhabits.com❤️ 🌼 #selfdevelopmenttools #successminded #pushforward #ambitious #motivationoftheday #dreamchasing #setgoals #motivationpost #motivationgirl #motivationblog #lifemotivation #motivationcoach #motivationalblogger #motivationgoals #motivationalwomen #experiencesomethingnew #moretolife #inspirationalwomen #changeyourmindchangeyourlife #changetheworldwithme #purposefulhabits #lebejetzt #attitude #glücklichsein
The Five Stages Of Grief And Loss
Before we get into what the five stages are, you have to remember that not everyone experiences these in the order listed below, and others may not experience all of them.
Denial and Isolation
1. Denial & Isolation
“This isn’t happening, this can’t be happening,” is a normal reaction to hearing the terrible news. We repeatedly say this to ourselves in order to numb the emotions and pain we are feeling. When you cope with grief and loss, denial is usually the first stage of dealing with what has happened.
It is in this stage of shock and denial that nothing makes sense. It is a great defence against the brutal reality of what is now your life. Realising that everything is out of your control.
For me, it blunts the impact of the loss. Let’s just say it’s our mind’s way of protecting us from more pain.
This is where I am currently. My denial has faded and this reality and its pain have re-emerged. The circumstances of my dad’s death truly anger me.
When Airbus announced in 2010 it would make a new fuel-efficient and cost-effective plane, Boeing rushed to get out its own version. That version was the 737 Max aeroplanes. Boeing added a computerized system called MCAS to prevent the plane’s nose from getting too high and causing a stall. MCAS is unique to the Max jets and isn’t present in other Boeing 737s.
So basically, an automated control system caused the crash. That’s why I am angry. The entire situation is so unforgivable.
Guilt often accompanies bargaining. Here’s when we start to wonder whether something we could have done or said who have helped save our loved one. In the hope of somehow returning life to what it was, we often start bargaining with a higher power.
Wishing, hoping and praying that our requests for a miracle and help will be heard. To have the ability to go back in time and make changes.
A part of how to cope with grief and loss is to carry yourself through the states. Depression can serve as our way of reacting to the adverse circumstances. In this stage, we begin to realize and feel the true extent of death or loss. It means you are mostly on the way to acceptance, however, this stage is critical as many people may not find it easy to get out of this phase.
10 common signs of depression include:
lack of appetite
Not everyone will reach this stage. Sometimes, we may not have the ability to make peace with the death of a loved one. Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “OK” with or “getting over” what has happened. My mom passed away in 2001. Eighteen years later and neither am I okay with or have gotten over it. I doubt I ever will.
For me, acceptance means knowing and accepting the reality of life without a loved one. Acceptance of the fact that this reality is a permanent one I have to live with.
A time to readjust and reorganize our lives that have been forever changed. Knowing that there will be good days and bad days ahead, and making the choice to continue to live and love life.
Acceptance means we change, we grow, we evolve.
Cope With Grief and Loss
No two people cope with grief and loss the same way. It is a deeply personal and singular experience. I have four siblings and we each coped with our mother’s death differently, just as we are doing now with my father’s passing. You just have to help yourself heal.
Surely, there are similarities, but nobody can understand all the emotions that each individual goes through. We can be there for one another and comfort each other through the process.
If you’re uncertain about whether your grieving process is normal, consult your health care professional. Expert and specialist help is often beneficial to people trying to recover and adjust to death, grief, and loss.
Helpful Ways To Cope With Grief and Loss
Allow yourself to feel the pain and emotions
Don’t tell yourself how to feel
Don’t let others tell you how you should feel
Be patient with the process
Don’t judge your emotions or compare yourself to others.
Talk about your loss
Ask for what you need.
Share your story of grief and loss
Cry some more
Join a bereavement support group (if you are too shy, start with an online group)
Take care of yourself
Eat well and exercise
Forgive yourself for all the things you did or didn’t say or do
Do something to honour the memory of your loved one
Things To Remember When Coping With Loss
Each stage will come with different levels of intensity. Contrary to what many believe, the five stages of loss do not necessarily occur in the order listed above. These are just guides in the grieving process to help you understand and put into context where you are.
We often move between stages before we achieve the acceptance of death. None of us knows how long each stage will last until we reach that point. Or if we ever will.
What I do know is someday the pain will lessen, leaving you with cherished memories of your loved one.
Have you had to cope with grief and loss? Lost a loved one, a job, your home or health?
As always, please share your thoughts and comments, with me below. Your experiences shared here can go a long way in helping someone.