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Grief & Loss

The Healing Process: Normal Grief Reactions

Thanks to Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who was the first to identify the stages of the grieving process. She identified these stages as shock and denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Alan Wolfelt described "mourning needs," which include acknowledging the reality of the death, embracing the pain of the loss, remembering the person who died, developing a new self-identity, searching for meaning, and receiving ongoing support from others.

One powerful benefit to knowing about grief is that you and your support system can be more patient with the process even if your actions seem uncharacteristic for your normal behavior.

One way to examine your own style of coping is to recall the ways you've dealt with painful times in the past. It is important to note that some ways of coping with grief are helpful, like talking to others, writing in a journal, remembering and telling stories about the persons life and death. Other way to cope with grief are, joining a support group and allowing yourself to cry when strong emotions surface.

Some coping styles may be hurtful or destructive to your healing process, such as drinking alcohol, other substance abuse or isolation. Healthy coping skills are important in resolving from a loss. They cannot take away your pain, but they can help you move forward in the healing process.

It is empowering to know that these feelings will not last forever and that in time you will recover, and may even be stronger, more compassionate and better then you were before.