The one thing in life after birth we are all guaranteed is our eventual passing. Knowing this does not resolve the traumatic impact of loosing a loved one. Loss is a very personal affair, with each person experiencing it in their very own way.
Loss can feel like a violation, a ripping of the very fabric of what made up our world and leaving our existence in tatters. Meaning no longer exists and despair becomes a dark familiar shadow that haunts our most personal and private thoughts.
From this void springs rage, injustice, anger and above all pain.
In our ever more fast paced societies, where less and less attention is given to emotional needs, the time required for healing and the places where we can do our mourning are squeezed tighter and tighter.
Loss is not something that only happens in adulthood, loss can and does happen at any time in ones life and does not need to be restricted to loss via death. Loss can be experienced around any significant or important area of our lives and can be equally traumatic.
How we respond and cope to loss has been observed to follow a pattern.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross observed five distinct phases in this process of loss and grief:
Not everyone will experience each stage and not necessarily in this order. Often individuals can experience a roller coaster effect of a number of stages together. Similarly, not everyone is able to reach acceptance.
The stages of grief and loss are equally applicable to divorce and seperation, bereavement, substance misuse and addiction as well as loss of a job or a significant trauma.
Research has shown that death is accepted more readily by those people who have experienced meaning and purpose in life. Resolution comes more easily with a sense of fulfilment.
Healing, processing and integration come in a non linear way, with a moving back and forth over stages again and again, with variations in pitch and intensity.
Some individuals deal with loss through resiliance and do not process or experience grief. There is no such thing as a ‘one fits all’ model. Individual response to change should be respected for their diversity.