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Dealing with Loss * Stages of Grief

Dealing with Loss

Anger and Depression are closely related, and this will go away, so hang on!
The ANGER stage of grief can be hardest to deal with properly.
I also want to tell ministers - its ok for you, too, to experience these stages.
You help others thru their grief, now accept their help.

Anger, the Underestimated Stage of Grief at the Holidays
Besides feeling depressed at the holidays after a loved one's death, many people feel angry.  
Anger is one of the 5 stages of grief.
Anger very problematic for many people, particularly Christians.

Anger is one of the two impulses of the "fight or flight" response that we share with the animals.  
With this response we make a snap judgment about real or perceived threats.  
Anger also is a normal human emotion that we feel that in response to pain or a threat.  
When we feel pain or a threat to our safety or well-being,
the emotion of anger energizes us to step up and defend our territory, safety and our dignity.    
Anger makes us uncomfortable.


Anger and Christmas

It is okay to be angry.  If there has been a loss in the family in the past year,
you may encounter some anger in other family members or you may find yourself angry at other family members.  

There are ways of anger expression which are appropriate.   FIRST, admit you have anger.  
People often do not understand that they are in the anger stage of grief.  
You are dealing with grief and loss.  Dealing with this anger is a process.  People need to feel it and work through it.  
Listen to what the anger is telling you, and whether or not you need to do something.
http://holidaysurvival.blogspot.c...restimated-stage-of-grief-at.html


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Anger, frustration, and bitterness
Stage 3 in the stages of grief and loss

http://www.caring.com/articles/anger-stage

This stage alternates in spurts with pain and guilt. You may find yourself becoming very reactive.
You're going along just fine until something sets off an explosion of angry, even hostile feelings.
Sometimes anger is a way to shield ourselves from feeling intense pain;
other times it's the simple contrast between other peoples' concerns and the sheer magnitude of what we're going through
that triggers an attack of bitterness or frustration.

You might notice irritation at things that seem petty and unimportant compared with what you're going through.
You might be feeling sudden attacks of self-pity and frustration or bursts of outrage and a sense of injustice,
Why me? or This isn't fair!

Bitterness or resentment of the sudden loss.
Many people describe feelings they're not proud of, such as, "Why couldn't it have been him instead?"
One person who lost her father early to cancer reported feeling ashamed of her lack of compassion
when other friends described their difficulties with fathers in poor health.  

The next step after denial is a sudden swing into anger, which often occurs in an explosion of emotion,
where the bottled-up feelings of the previous stages are expulsed in a huge outpouring of grief.
Whoever is in the way is likely to be blamed. In a company this includes the managers, peers, shareholders customers and suppliers.
The phrase 'Why me?' may be repeated in an endless loop in their heads.
A part of this anger thus is 'Why not you?', which fuels their anger at the those who are not affected, or perhaps not as seriously so.
http://changingminds.org/discipli...ement/kubler_ross/anger_stage.htm


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The 5 stages of Grief, loss
Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Testing, Acceptance

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler

The stages have evolved since their introduction and they have been very misunderstood.
They were never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages.
They are responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss.
Our grief is as individual as our lives.

The five stages, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost.
They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.
Not everyone goes through all of them or in a prescribed order.
Our hope is that with these stages comes the knowledge of grief ’s terrain, making us better equipped to cope with life and loss.


Denial


This first stage of grieving helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense.
We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on.
We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible.
Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.
As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process.
You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.


Anger

Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless.
The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal.
There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing.
The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, yourself and your loved one who died, but also to God.
You may ask, “Where is God in this?

Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger.
Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. At first grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything.
Then you get angry at someone, maybe a person who didn’t attend the funeral, maybe a person who isn’t around,
maybe a person who is different now that your loved one has died. Suddenly you have a structure - your anger toward them.
The anger becomes a bridge over the open sea, a connection from you to them.
It is something to hold onto; and a connection made from the strength of anger feels better than nothing.
We usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it. The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.


Bargaining

Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared.
“Please God, ” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.”
After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others.
Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?”

We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was; we want our loved one restored.
We want to go back in time: find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only.
Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if onlys” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently.
We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt.

People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months.
They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another.
We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.


Depression  

After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined.
This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness.
It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone?
Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of.
The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing.
The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response.
To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual.
When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing.
If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.


Acceptance  

Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case.
Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one.
This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality.
We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live.
We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died.
In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact.
It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves.

Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones.
As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one.
We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies.
Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve.
We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves.
We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.
CJ

xx

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