Loss Can Affect You in Many Ways
Even if you’ve dealt with grief and loss before, it can hit you in new ways. Every relationship, be it with a person, place or thing, is completely different. So it’s no wonder that our grief feels different every time we experience it. Some of the stages of grief might be similar, and yet the variations are endless.
For example, one variation of grief is something called survivors guilt. This happens when someone who shares some trait with you (a person who works with you, someone with the same illness as you, a parent of one of your child’s friends) passes away, and you wonder why it was them and not you. Why do you get to survive when they don’t? You’re grieving, and this grief is unique because your relationship to that person was unique.
Loss can affect you even when no person has died. Dealing with the loss of a pet is one common example. Likewise, divorce or the end of a long-term relationship can cause you to feel grief even though there has been no death. The loss of that connection, that relationship to the person, place, or thing, feels like a death to us and we grieve that loss accordingly.
There are common stages that people go through when dealing with loss. The most famous list is the Kubler-Ross list of the five stages of grief. That framework says you’re likely to go through denial, bargaining, anger, and depression before finally beginning to accept the loss.
However, that is just one way to understand grief, and there are many other ways of looking at loss. Some professionals say that there are more than five stages of grief. Even if you identify with the five-stage model, it’s not linear. It’s not as though you feel denial for a set amount of time then move into bargaining. Instead, you may move back and forth between the different stages quickly or slowly over a long period of time. You may feel two conflicting things at once.
Loss can make you feel so many different ways. You might feel completely numb, unable to really process what has happened. You may feel immobilized by sadness. On the other hand, you may find that you have tons of restless energy and that the only way to get through the pain is to keep on moving and getting things done. You may even be surprised by your emotional reaction to a particular loss. Remember that whatever you feel is an honest, authentic, and perfectly appropriate response to grief and loss.