By Yvonne Rheinschmidt Ph D, LPC
“What are we to do, my brothers?” Acts 2
Last week we spoke about grief. Several individuals have asked me if they are dealing with grief and want to know what grief looks like. So, I have put together a short explanation. First, we have to understand that all of us go through the following phases of grief at our own pace and in our own way. We may go back and forth between them, or skip one or more stages altogether. Reminders of that which we have lost, like the anniversary of a death, birthday, a familiar song or even a fond memory, can trigger the return of grief.
Grief is a natural response to losing someone or something. Emotions can vary, like sadness or loneliness. And you might experience it for a number of different reasons like job loss, a relationship has ended and even the death of a loved one. So the question arises what does grief look like? There are several stages of grief.
According to Dr. DerSarkissian (2018), feelings may happen in phases as you come to terms with your loss. You can’t control the process, but it’s helpful to know the reasons behind your feelings. All people experience grief differently. Though it is no longer considered the ideal way to think about grief, you may have heard of the stages of grief:
Denial: When you first learn of a loss, it’s normal to think, “This isn’t happening.” You may feel shocked or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion. It’s a defense mechanism.
Anger: As reality sets in, you’re faced with the pain of your loss. You may feel frustrated and helpless. These feelings later turn into anger. You might direct it toward other people, a higher power, or life in general. To be angry with a loved one who died and left you alone is natural, too.
Bargaining: During this stage, you dwell on what you could have done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are “If only…” and “What if…” You may also try to strike a deal with a higher power.
Acceptance: In this final stage of grief, you accept the reality of your loss. It can’t be changed. Although you still feel sad, you’re able to start moving forward with your life.
When we don’t know what to do, we can always turn to Scripture; our light and stability can only be found in Jesus. Last Sunday’s Gospel, John 10, gave us so much hope in the Good Shepherd. Jesus stated “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
On April 24, Pope Francis stated: “In the time of trial that we are presently undergoing, we experience our frailty. We need the Lord, who sees an irrepressible beauty beyond that frailty. With Him we rediscover how precious we are, even in our vulnerability.”