Understanding the Phases of Grief

The Four Phases of Grief
1. Numbness – This is the phase immediately following a loss. The grieving person feels numb, which is a defense mechanism that allows them to survive emotionally.

2. Searching and Yearning – This can also be referred to as pining and is characterized by the grieving person longing or yearning for the deceased to return. Many emotions are expressed during this time and may include weeping, anger, anxiety, and confusion.

3. Disorganization and Despair – The grieving person now desired to withdraw and disengage from others and activities they regularly enjoyed. Feelings of pining and yearning become less intense while periods of apathy, meaning an absence of emotion, and despair increase.

4. Reorganization and Recovery – In this final phase, the grieving person begins to return to a new state of “normal”. Weight loss experienced during intense grieving may be regained, energy levels increase, and an interest to return to activities of enjoyment returns. Grief never ends but thoughts of sadness and despair are diminished while positive memories of the deceased take over.

Because everyone grieves in their own way at their own pace, there is no time line that these phases are supposed to be completed in. Receiving bereavement counseling and joining bereavement support groups can help the grieving individual move through the phases fluidly.

The Means of Healing
There are specific processes of mourning that need to be accomplished in order for mourning to be completed.

1. Accept the Reality of Your Loss.

2. Remember that you are never alone.

3. Work Through the Pain. Grief is painful, physically and emotionally. It is important to acknowledge the pain and not suppress it.

4. Seek and Accept Support.

5. Accept Your Grief. Don’t try to run and hide from your grief. You need to experience the pain and sorrow to be able to move past it and on towards healing.

6. Express Your Feelings. Talk to others. Express your feelings through music, art, poetry, or journaling.

7. Accept How You Feel.

8. Pace Yourself. Grief can be exhausting.

9. Get Involved in work, a study, physical activity, volunteering or something you have always wanted to do but have never done.

10. Remember to Have some fun. Your loved one wants you continue on and to enjoy life.

Grief does not last forever. Healing does come and will come.

Common Problems: End of Life Care by Barry M. Kinzbrunner, Neal J. Weinreb, and Joel S. Policzer