Regardless of a person’s age or health, losing a loved one is a devastatingly painful experience and depending on how close an individual was to the deceased, the grieving process can take a long time. However, with adequate support, overcoming a loss can be much less overwhelming. Still there are specific phases that a person endures. Although everyone grieves in his own way, being able to identify the stages of grief can enable close friends and family members to better understand the thoughts, feelings and actions of the person who is grieving.
Initially, individuals will try to convince themselves that their beloved is not actually gone. This is a coping mechanism that kicks in because the pain of the reality is too intense to deal with head on. During the denial stage, individuals can gradually come to accept the reality of the loss. However, once reality fully sets in, so does the next stage of grief.
This is the point when most people look for fault. There must be someone to blame; something so unbearable must have some reason. Some individuals may even blame the deceased; how could someone he loved so much abandon him? But when it becomes clear that there is no one to blame and the anger is unwarranted, there is a transition to the third phase.
It is at this juncture when a person may begin to beg and plead with God; if he will just let this all be a bad dream, the individual will devote the rest of his days to helping feed the hungry or he will give a portion of his paycheck to a charity every week. In attempts to return to life as he knew it, an individual will try to negotiate or look for a way to escape. However, these attempts are futile and thus a dark cloud ascends over his world.
After efforts to wish and hope for this to somehow not be real are thwarted, a deep sadness envelopes every fiber of his being. He no longer tries to blame or negotiate, he simply lives with the emptiness and withdraws from everyone and everything. He may even wonder is there is any reason to go on. Without this person who was so important, continuing to live may seem pointless. Still, with time it becomes easier to function. Each day becomes less of an uphill struggle. Until one day it seems that there is a new normal.
Acceptance does not mean that the individual has forgotten his loved one, nor does it mean that he is okay with the loss. This merely means that he is finally able to come to terms with it. This is the crossroad when he realizes that his loved one is gone and will not be returning. At this point, he acknowledges the situation and begins to adjust to his new reality. He can finally let go of the guilt and understand that by going on, he is not betraying his loved one. He is, in fact, honoring them. As difficult as it may seem, loved ones want friends and family to live and be happy. Therefore, living a full life can serve as the ultimate tribute.