There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. They are terms for us to use to help identify what we may be feeling. The original author of On Death and Dying, who identified these stages in 1969, has since added a sixth stage: meaning. But these terms are only there for us as a guide to help identify what we are going through so we can cope with our emotions.
When the wound is fresh, it is hard to think of the positives after losing someone. But remembering them in good memories gives a meaning to everything you have been through watching them go. Learning acceptance and finding meaning might be hard, especially if you are feeling one particular stage more acutely than others. But you can get there.
This title is actually misleading. There is no right, step-by-step guide in how to grieve. It is a process that affects everyone differently, and not everyone goes through the same feelings or stages. The main takeaway should be that these stages are not a linear timeline of what everyone goes through. Everyone processes loss differently. There is no right way to mourn. There are better ways, but there is no right way. And someone telling you how to act and what you should be feeling during this time is not someone you want to be around when handling these emotions.
Some people are comfortable and open and will share their emotions with others. On the other hand, some people prefer to be more private, opening up to a few or no one, and keeping to themselves. Just because someone doesn’t cry does not mean they are not as sad as you are. It is important to keep in mind that everyone is different, and you should not expect them to feel or act as you do.
And there is no right way to act either. As long as you aren’t harming others, deal with it as you know best. For me, I cannot sit around; I need to keep my mind busy. I might take a day from work, but then I go right back in (as long as I notice I am not making too many mistakes and my mind isn’t full). For me, I like to deal with things by myself before I am ready to support others.
And you are also in no obligation to support others. Especially if you are not ready yourself. Someone who only gives you a day to deal with yourself before they start demanding you join the procession is honestly someone you should block until you are ready to move forward.
As long as you cope with your emotions, and decide if you are capable or not of helping others, then you are doing just fine. And if you decide that you are not able to help support others within the span of twenty-four hours, that’s okay too. If you are judging or demanding, or screaming at your children to take care of you, you are in need of therapy or a counselor.
Loss is hard. And everyone handles it differently. We need to respect others and their choices.