The 7 Stages of Grief

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Dec 8, 2021

Life events that lead to grief

One of the most devastating things about facing traumatic events in life is that we're hardly ever able to prepare for them. Grief often accompanies profound loss — whether it's the loss of a loved one, a relationship or anything else we hold dear or see as significant. As difficult as it is to talk about at times, harboring feelings of grief can be detrimental to our overall health and wellbeing. Peer counseling is an effective method of dealing with the grief process in a sensitive yet constructive way.

7 Stages of the Grief Process

Grief is extremely personal and does not present in the same way in all individuals. It can be messy and is in no way linear. Despite this, there are 7 stages of grief that professionals have identified:

Shock and Denial: Grief can feel overwhelming and even overpowering. Often, an individual may be in complete disbelief that a loss is occurring in the first place. It is not unusual for individuals to deny that this is happening — it’s a common defense mechanism that allows more time to process the event.

Pain and Guilt: When the shock of loss wears off, we can feel overcome by an enormous amount of pain. Individuals often experience feelings of guilt, too, as the loss can make us feel remorseful of things we did or didn’t do.

Anger: Where denial is a defense tactic, anger is then the masking effect. It hides all the other emotions being carried. Many struggle with anger management and tend to project their frustrations. Not everyone goes through this stage but it is common. Once our anger starts to dissipate, we can think about what’s happening with a bit more clarity.

Bargaining: With grief comes an enormous feeling of vulnerability and helplessness. During these moments, it’s normal for us to look for ways that will help us feel more in control of the situation and our emotions. We will, in simple terms, “clutch at straws” to help us feel the normality we had before our loss. We go through a lot of “what ifs” and “if onlys” in our heads, which only delays the sadness and pain.

Depression: This is the hardest stage of the grief process. Unlike anger and bargaining, which are ‘active’ stages of grieving, depression could see a person become reclusive while working through their emotions. This is a period of intense heaviness and we can find ourselves feeling stuck. Consulting a grief peer counselor during this stage can be hugely comforting.

The Upward Turn: By this stage, we’re able to come to terms with life (without our loved one, job, or whatever it is that we’ve lost). Life starts to feel a little calmer. Feelings of depression begin to gradually dissipate and are replaced with more mental clarity and self-compassion.

Acceptance and Hope: This is also a hard stage of the grief process as it means accepting the loss and the impact it’s had. There will be both good days and bad days, and both are okay.

Navigating the 7 stages of grief with a peer counselor

Many know about the 7 stages of grief but few know how to navigate it constructively when they’re in the situation themselves. Peer counseling for grief is a proven method for dealing with grief and a great complement to traditional therapy — find a peer counselor at Peer Collective who has experienced great loss and learnt to manage it in a healthy manner.

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