By Tom Gonzalez, PhD, LPC, LCPC
Grief is an experience we would rather avoid, yet in each of our lives we deal with grief from the time of our youths when we may lose a favorite item or a pet to the times in our lives when a loss is much more profound and significant. When we lose a parent, a close relative, a spouse or a child, we can feel overwhelmed and sometimes paralyzed by emotions.
How can a person cope with grief? As we have learned, grief is something that is experienced by an individual in stages ranging from denial and isolation to anger to bargaining to depression and then finally to acceptance. Grieving itself includes moments of pain, distress, sorrow, misery, anguish, heartbreak, mourning and sadness.
Each person experiences the stages of grief in her/his own unique way and those stages may be experienced in order, or a person may skip back and forth through the stages. Some may even skip a stage.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s groundbreaking book Death and Dying presented the stages of grief and grieving in an understandable format. Loss and yes, death, is part of our lives. Some theorists believe that the ability to deal with and manage a significant loss in our lives may even strengthen us in a unique way for challenges and losses yet to come. As Kubler-Ross and her contributors wrote in Death – The Final Stage of Growth, coming to terms with the temporal nature of our existence as individuals can lead to a worthwhile discovery of life’s meaning.
Grieving is a deeply personal and singular experience. As one experiences grief, one will often learn to cope with life and its many challenges in a different manner.
If you have experienced a loss in your life, you can access counseling services through the BJC EAP. Our experienced professionals can help you work through the many complicated emotions and experiences that accompany loss and grief in our lives.
In addition, BJC Hospice provides free grief support camps, retreats and support groups for adults, teens and children who have lost a loved one. Learn more here.