Let’s Talk: The Process of Grief Beyond The 5 Steps

Grief is a funny old thing that no one person will experience it the same way. The length of time the process takes and the coping mechanisms you rely on will vary for each person. Still, losing somebody you love is difficult. What we fail to understand when we’re comforting friends and family is that losing somebody close isn’t something you get over, it’s a process. And it’s important we talk about it.

We’re all familiar with the “grieving process” that consists of five stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. But, as you may know, grief isn’t as simple as five stages. Yes we may experience them but not in any particular order.

  1. Why are we so afraid to talk?

Grief remains to be one of the most difficult topics to address. whether it’s because we don’t know what to say or because we’re afraid to “bring the mood down”. In my own experience, whenever I’d talk about it I’d get a lot of awkward silences and faces because people didn’t know what to say or how to react.

They didn’t know that all I wanted was for them to laugh with me and let me cry when I needed to cry. It was what helped keep the memory alive and still does now, 5 years on. Don’t be afraid of the changing emotion, laugh and cry – at the same time if it helps. Speak about it.

2. The many myths that just don’t help.

I’d love to say losing somebody close is something you wake up one day and get over like a break up but that’s just not the case. I read a piece that spoke of letting go and how if you can let go of somebody easily (in terms of a relationship breakdown) they never meant that much in the first place, and this rings true for grief, although bittersweet.

Losing somebody close can be distressing as well as the emotions that come with it. they don’t disappear overnight and that’s why it’s important to let people go through their own process with their own coping mechanisms. Be there but don’t tell them how to grieve.

3. You will experience bitterness and that’s okay.

When I experienced loss, I remember feeling bitter that everybody else around me was happy and could carry on as normal. I was bitter that he wouldn’t see me through to my next birthday, teach me how to drive or simply make me laugh when everything felt overwhelming.

Feeling angry and bitter was a part of processing it all for me. Although the thoughts weren’t rational, it was all because I was grieving and didn’t know how to cope with it all. What’s important to realise is that you will get past it. It will still hurt but that hurt will express itself through other forms.

4. It’s a lengthy process, let it hurt.

We’re all guilty of taking shortcuts to escape any kind of painful situation we find ourselves in. These come in the shape of unhealthy coping mechanisms to ease the pain or shutting down completely and ignoring the matter. There is no quick fix to grief. It’s a process for a reason. The only way to grieve and heal the hurt is to allow whatever emotions to come – as scary as that may sound.

Grief will have you laughing in stitches at the thought of a happy memory one minute, and struggling to breathe because it hurts so much the next. Extremely cliche but grief is very much a rollercoaster of emotions.

The grieving process will end and you will heal and learn to live with it but you will never stop missing that person. You will come out of that dark place and do the things you always wanted to do. You’ll always wish they were around but you’ll also know that somewhere, they are still with you and will be forever.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for any feedback or queries.

Ciao for now x

Posted by

Wellbeing writer, host for The Inspired Narrative podcast and mental health support worker.

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