To live is to prosper. To live is to grieve.
It may appear that you are standing in the middle of a beautiful lake, overseeing the beauty of the nature. But at the same time, without your knowledge, your feet may be shackled in chains beneath that water. A moment of terror passes by upon realization. But then, on closer examination, you find that the chains are made of gold. A fortune on top of a tragedy.
That is how life is. You never know what is coming and what is not. You just keep going and then suddenly, the adversity hits you. It seems unfair because you don’t get time to prepare for something like that. To say that only adversities are a sudden event would be a lie. Good things come as a surprise too. There is so much in store that you cannot possibly compare the good and the bad.
However, in this article, we will only focus on the aftermath of any adversity. The sorrow and grief that follows upon after a huge loss. That grief has stages too and we will glide through the five stages of grief to understand this common pattern, founded by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in 1969. Yes, the five stages of Grief dates back to the 20th century but is still very much valid today.
Types of Loss
Just for a head start, the loss is permanently losing anything that is extremely precious to you. Like, a relationship in Breakups and Divorce, a person in Death, your trust, and that person in Treachery, and many more like that.
Stage 1 – Denial
The most common reaction upon hearing a devastating news, Denial is the time it takes to let the news sink in. Even after the news somehow sinks in, the abnormality of the situation makes the person not believe it at all. This is because it is something the person did not ever expect to face. The person takes his/her time to register the complete scenario in his/her mind.
Going into denial means not accepting the situation – continuously refusing to even hear about such a thing happening. They call to their faith, knowing that their faith is greater than anything and it could not let anything bad happen to them or their loved ones. Call it blind faith, but the reality of the situation becomes even harder to accept when one thinks of them as under the Almighty’s protection forever.
It is necessary for the person to understand that having faith does not mean that he/she will never face bad times; that he/she will remain unharmed in this fast and vicious world. They learn that the hard way.
Stage 2 – Anger
Anger follows Denial. After fully registering the fact and settling in the situation, the person develops extreme anger towards the person who caused this loss to him/her. The person may consider some other person or the Almighty him/her(self) at fault. It depends on the kind of loss.
The reason behind this extreme anger is obvious. When someone takes something dear away from you, your instinct is to get it back. And if you don’t get it back, if you understand that the thing is gone forever because of that person, you go rabid. It is human tendency to blame one’s loss on someone.
However, there are a few cases where people lose something because of their own mistake. Such cases are highly harmful because the person becomes angry on none other than him/her(self). This can lead the person to cause some serious self-harm and could be highly fatal.
Stage 3 – Bargaining
The third stage in Five stages of Grief is Bargaining. It comes when the anger subsides. It is the realization that no amount of anger can undo the loss the person is going through; sadness and helplessness multiplying. It leads to the person missing the thing they lost. But it isn’t the prime of it. Just the beginning.
This stage is equivalent to a person begging and willing to do anything to get their loss back. But since it is permanent, the loss lingers like a widening gap in the person’s life. It leads to the person being sad, wishing that the adversity is only a temporary nightmare and that it would end soon; to get back to normal. But is it really that easy? It is impossible to bring something back which is gone forever. The understanding itself is the end of this stage. When the person understands how futile it is to beg for what is gone forever, he/she automatically moves on to the next stage.
Stage 4 – Depression
Nowadays, depression is a term everyone is familiar with. With the seriousness of mental health problems coming to light, people have actively participated into bringing good things to everyone’s lives.
When a person loses all the hope, it results in depression. When the reasons to live seem hazy and when the voice in your head goes numb. Worse even, they do not sound like your usual self. They start to whisper condescending things every hour and every minute to you, making you dwell in your sadness. The purpose of those voices is to not let you get up from the mess you start to live in.
You miss the thing that you have lost more than anything else. This is the prime of a person’s sadness and helplessness. Even basic habits like eating food and drinking water becomes a burden. Every stage is terrible in their own way but somehow, this one is the worst. Because you lose every sense of reality and go completely out of touch from life.
Stage 5 – Acceptance
The last and possibly the most peaceful stage is Acceptance. It is learning to live with your loss. Like the light at the end of a long tunnel, Acceptance follows Depression to teach you to settle into a life without the thing you lost. It is its own parts of sad and happy. It attracts nothing but positivity along with the hurt of letting the pain and loss go.
This does not mean you don’t miss the thing you lost. It simply means that you have them in your memories forever and you understand that holding on will only cause pain. It is the end of the process of Grief.
There is no indication that once the process ends, you will never go through hurt with the memory of the loss.
A very praised theory indeed, many people have witnessed The Five Stages of Grief, both in their personal lives and in the general society. The end of every stage comes with a certain realization. Step by step, learning and realizing a new thing, the person learns to let the misery go.
Acceptance is the most beautiful stage and once the person achieves that, he/she not only learns to live with the memory, but also comes out wiser than before. Also, there are always some exceptions in every theory. No one can guarantee that this theory can be applied everywhere. In some instances, people seem to skip or shuffle some stages, but it remains mostly the same.
Anyhow, the sanctity of it still stands true and tall. Everyone must be aware about it to deal better with life and unforeseen circumstances.
You can also check out this article by me – Overcome Identity Crisis: Know Yourself Better in 5 Steps