Grief Expectations: What You Need to Know After Losing a Loved One.

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We all know that losing a loved one is difficult. We know that we will grieve, but how much does grief impact your life? Grief can impact your whole person-mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. One thing to remember is to not distance yourself from your grief. You may want to push your grief aside and lock it in a box, but that only delays the healing process. As time goes on after your loss you will most likely experience three distinct phases of loss.

Shock and Denial

The first phase for most people is shock-a feeling of unreality or numbness. This can be, but isn’t always, closely followed by denial that the loved one is gone. This is the phase where our minds start adjusting to the loss of our loved one.

During this difficult period it may be too hard to constantly think of your grief. You may go back and forth between believing that the loss has really happened or that it is unreal. It is critical that you give yourself time to adjust to the loss and come to terms with it. This stage may be as short as a few days, or last for a long time. Don’t feel like you are supposed to be following a set timeline; everyone grieves differently and at their own pace.

Disorganization

The disorganization phase is full of chaos for the ones experiencing grief. They are intensely aware of the hole in their life left by the one who has passed, and trying to adapt to a life without them.

This period is full of exhaustion and overwhelming emotion. Symptoms would include mood swings of anger, extreme sadness, depression, despair, and even jealousy of others who have not experienced this loss.

This is the stage where people start to understand the implications of their loss, and begin to move on toward rebuilding their life. This stage can last a year or more. Don’t rush yourself to heal, give yourself time to adjust.

Recovery

This stage could be considered the reorganization of your life. You are finally accepting the loss. This stage comes and goes as you begin to find balance with your grief. You might start to notice that the physical manifestations of your grief are beginning to occur less often and fade away. The overwhelming exhaustion you might have felt will lessen.

The pain of loss will always be there, but the unbearable intensity grows less and less over time. You begin to remember your loved one with fondness and joy instead of sadness. You start to feel hopeful about life again. You finally feel like life is possible and that you can be happy.