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What is the Grieving Process?

Death is inevitable and is part of the life process. And no matter how we look at it, its one event that nobody ever looks forward to. It is just too painful, too permanent, too traumatic. But then, when death strikes in a family, the loved ones have no choice but to deal with it. No matter how painful, the step-by-step process of healing is gone through, and we learn to live our normal lives again, like it or not.

As we said, grieving is a process. It is a normal and natural reaction to a loss or death of a loved one. Grief is an adaptive mechanism that is essential even in the loss of something (an idea or a dream) besides the life of a loved one. Grief is necessarily a part of adjusting to a new situation and has several components.

The grieving process is a succession or series of reactions that overlap and replace one another. It is possible that a person may feel the manifestations of different stages at one time.

The first stage is shock and numbness. The very first reaction is that of disbelief. One simply cannot accept that the unfortunate event has happened to him. This stunned phase occurs temporarily but for an undetermined period of time. This phase is a protective mechanism that helps a person cope and accept the situation at his own phase.

At the shock stage, the person may continue functioning but has the inability to hear nor feel any emotions. It is as if the person is at a daze, merely moving from hour to hour, from day to day.

Sometimes, the first stage is a phase of denial where the person refuses to believe the news. He cannot believe it and he does not want to believe it.

The next stage is yearning and searching. This is when the person longs for the loved one, desperately wanting to bring back what used to be. There is anger, guilt and restlessness at this stage. The tears now come as one tries to handle the situation, always wanting to be alone.

Disorientation and even disorganization will be part of the next stage where the feeling of guilt is still there together with depression and unfamiliarity. At this phase, some resort to taking sedatives but may not actually be helpful because it delays the emotional healing even further.

Finally, when acceptance has finally set in, the process of resolution is reached. The person now seems to be ready for decision-making, more responsibilities and the need to move on. Self-confidence seems to be boosted at this point. The realization of the loss has finally been accepted and acknowledged.

Although almost everyone who goes through the grieving process experiences the different stages at one point or another. Even after the last stage, it is possible that one reverts to the 2nd or 3rd stage anytime especially during special occasions like Christmas, birthdays and other family gatherings.

The grieving process is a long journey to healing broken hearts but is necessary to go on living a normal life. In due time, the wounds will heal, the pain remains but is dulled by time. Therefore, it is just a matter of time and acceptance of the new situation can now take place. Letting go may be the hardest thing to do but it can happen.

Pick up your Free Recovery Rolodex, Over 97 pages of self help and recovery tips, resources and links to enhance your life in addiction recovery.The author, Bill Urell MA.CAAP-II, is an addictions therapist at a leading drug addictiontreatment center. He teaches healthy life styles and life skills. Tell your story! Visit: